Are there different types of Americans? As the election season shifts up a gear, we’re going to hear more and more about how different we are from one another. Comparisons are easy to make: liberals versus conservatives, Republicans versus Democrats, Red States versus Blue States.
But are these differences real?
If you look for differences, you can find them. I found three different types of Americans, based on my national surveys of American values. Today I’ll tell you about the traditional individualists. Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll tell you about the religious conservatives and young progressives. These differences are real, but the main message is this: I also found strong evidence that these three types of Americans share a common set of core American values. On Thursday, I’ll tell you what those are.
So who are these “traditional individualists”? The phrase reflects the intensity of their values about national security and moral destiny, along with their endorsement of individualistic values. Of the three types, traditional individualists have the strongest beliefs in America’s moral destiny and the highest level of uncritical patriotism—my country, right or wrong. Traditional individualists have the strongest concerns for national security and are willing to trade individual freedoms for national security.
Traditional individualists prefer to rely on themselves. They define freedom as being left alone to do what they want. And, they feel that the individual is the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong.
But they are also religious. Religion is important to them. They tend to be mainline or conservative Christians. Few say they are atheists, agnostics, or have no religion. Politically, the majority are middle of the road or conservative. Traditional individualists live throughout the United States, but tend to reside in the south.
Are you a traditional individualist?
How would you describe this type of American?
Do you agree that John Wayne fits the category? Who else?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue.