American Types: Do they have any values in common? John Wayne, Billy Graham, and Lady Gaga have any values in common?

These three figures, each iconic in his or her own way, represent the three types of Americans we’ve discussed so far this week: traditional individualists, religious conservatives, and young progressives. These types are known by their distinctive values, and the images we selected emphasize that. But could it also be true that they share values as well?

The evidence is clear: They do share a set of core values. Each value is “core” in the sense that it is intensely held and widely shared by Americans regardless of type. The three types have real differences, but they are united in their support of key core values. Here are three:

Respect for people of different races, ethnicities, and faiths. Respect is more than tolerance. Respect is acceptance, appreciation, and even esteem for people who are different from oneself.

Symbolic patriotism. Across the board, seeing Old Glory or hearing the national anthem warms Americans’ hearts. But American patriotism is more than the warm feeling we get from national symbols.

Critical patriotism. Americans of all types express strong support of the value of critical or “tough love” patriotism. This means that, if we criticize the government, participate in protests, or oppose U.S. policies, we do so because we love America and want it to live up to its high ideals.

So, yes, John Wayne, Billy Graham, and Lady Gaga (and the types they represent) do have shared values after all.

Are these values important to you?

What other values top your list?

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Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue.

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