ShareThis Page
Scott Rasmussen: War of Independence, civil rights movement part of same revolution |
Scott Rasmussen

Scott Rasmussen: War of Independence, civil rights movement part of same revolution

Scott Rasmussen
| Monday, December 17, 2018 7:03 p.m.
American Flag

Many of our political differences today stem from different perceptions of American history.

On the surface, it appears as if there’s a lot of common ground in understanding that history. Ninety-five percent of voters believe that the founding ideals of freedom, equality and self-governance played an important role (including 74 percent who consider those ideals “very important”).

There’s also a broad recognition that there are many other strands of history that helped define the United States as a nation. Eighty-eight percent believe the tradition of pragmatic problem-solving played an important role. Seventy-eight percent say the same about the Protestant work ethic and faith; 75 percent recognize that slavery played an important role; 74 percent acknowledge the importance of the political heritage and culture from England; 48 percent believe white supremacy played an important role.

But once you look beneath the surface of that common understanding, it becomes apparent that we’re not all looking at the same history. While just about everyone agrees on the vital role played by our noble founding ideals, the same cannot be said about the importance of slavery.

Forty-eight percent of voters under 50 believe slavery played a very important role in the development of our country. Just 34 percent of older voters see it as that significant.

Fifty-two percent of Democrats think slavery has played a very important role in making our nation what it is today. That view is shared by 37 percent of independent voters and 33 percent of Republicans.

Not surprisingly, the racial divide is even wider: 79 percent of black voters say slavery is a very important factor. Forty-eight percent of Hispanic voters agree, along with
33 percent of white voters.

These contrasting perceptions play out in data, which shows that 66 percent of voters are proud of America’s history, while 33 percent are ashamed. As you would expect, those who see slavery as playing a larger role are more likely to be ashamed of our nation’s history. So, 50 percent of Democrats are ashamed of our history, a view shared by 31 percent of independents and only 14 percent of Republicans.

For understandable reasons, 66 percent of African-American voters are ashamed of the United States’ history. At the other end of the spectrum, 74 percent of white voters are proud of the country’s history, along with 65 percent of Hispanic voters.

Amid these competing perceptions of our past, there is hope and common ground for the future.

In the competition between the noble founding ideals and shameful history of institutionalized racism, 82 percent of all voters believe the noble strand will dominate American politics in the future. It’s a view widely shared across partisan and ideological lines.

Our task today is to make that expectation a reality. Now is the time for the shameful strand of our history to die and the noble strand to flourish. To make this happen, we must be totally committed to shaping the culture by building a society worthy of our highest ideals. It is time to recognize that America’s War of Independence and the Civil Rights Movement were part of the same revolution, a revolution for liberty, equality and self-governance.

Those ideals are the essentials we can build upon together while agreeing to disagree on the details of policy.

Scott Rasmussen is the publisher of and author of “The Sun Is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed But America Will Not.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.