TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — “American exceptionalism” is the belief that due to its values, political system and history, the United States is better than other nations.
For centuries, that concept, which originated in the 1800s, has played a large role on the world stage. Recent polling shows Generation Z, the youngest legal adults in the U.S., has far fewer members who believe, conceptually, that America is inherently better.
According to Morning Consult, Gen Z is the least patriotic generation in the country with just 16% of the 18 to 25-year-olds surveyed saying they were proud to live in the U.S.
“Compared with baby boomers, the net share of Gen Z adults who say they are proud to live in the United States is 57 percentage points lower,” Morning Consult reported.
According to the poll, Gen Z as a group believed less in the idea of American exceptionalism than other generations. This lack of belief has pushed them to demand that corporations be held accountable, according to the survey.
Those in Gen Z have faced a variety of crises in recent years as they have entered adulthood.
“COVID-19 lockdowns, social unrest and graphic images of police brutality may be causing them to abandon” the belief in American exceptionalism, compared to their older peers, “especially in terms of respect for civil liberties at home compared with less democratic countries,” Morning Consult noted.
Gen Z is also the generation least likely to trust government institutions— from the federal government to U.S. Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, state governments, and even municipal or local institutions. Less than a third of Gen Z trusts the electoral process, according to data from Morning Consult.
Evidence collected during the survey “indicates that younger generations may not think the United States — and by extension, U.S. companies — have the moral high ground to act as arbiters of ethics overseas due to persistent sociopolitical challenges at home.”
This is also reflected in their trust of corporations and non-governmental institutions.
Morning Consult data showed Gen Z was least likely to trust the criminal justice system, health care systems, the police, the military, public education, and the science community, as well as generational lows for corporate America, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and the news media.
However, out of all the generations surveyed, no group had more than 45% of respondents say they trusted any of those organizations—not baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials or those from Gen Z.
Although trust in corporate America is at a low, a Gallup poll, conducted with Bentley University, found that 18 to 29-year-olds had the most support for businesses taking public stances on current events and issues. However, political Democrats were more likely than their Republican counterparts to support corporate involvement.
Gallup reported that “75% of Democrats say they should, compared with 40% of independents and 18% of Republicans.” Regardless of political party, 88% of Americans surveyed said they thought companies “should try and make the world better.” Bentley’s survey analysis said that Americans want businesses not only to make a profit, but address the needs of their stakeholders to determine success.
“Adults across the U.S. are looking beyond the bottom line when it comes to evaluating business success,” Patricia Flynn Trustee Professor of Economics and Management at Bentley University said. “Employers are increasingly expected to address the needs of all of their stakeholders, including workers, partners, customers and communities as well as shareholders.”
While 88% said companies should work to improve the world, a far smaller set of the respondents to the survey said companies were actually succeeding at doing so. Only 24% said companies are actually improving the world we live in.