Americans aren’t super enthusiastic about their country or who’s running it.
As the excellent FiveThirtyEight reports, President Joe Biden rests at 41.3% approval and 54.8% disapproval as of July 24th, 2023. Former President Donald Trump has pretty similar numbers, although he has lost a little ground among Republicans in the past year.
According to a RealClearPolitics average of polls, about a quarter of Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction, while almost 70% believe it is headed in the wrong direction. As I detailed last week, many Americans are pessimistic about home ownership, which reflects a variety of concerns about the economy, including the return to the office movement.
While it’s one thing to distrust your government and the direction of the country, what about other aspects of American life? Gallup asked Americans the degree of confidence they had in 14 institutions. Only small businesses and the military achieved a rating of above 50%, continuing a trend of low faith.
Yikes, depression central eh?
Considering this extensive data, I was surprised to learn that the international community is more positive about us, according to the irreplaceable Pew Research. Their study samples people in 23 different countries.
President Biden receives a vote of confidence from 54%, 14 points above his results from fellow Americans. He is ‘significantly more popular’ than Mr. Trump in ‘middle-income nations.’
Mr. Biden has made more of an effort to court the international community, as opposed to Mr. Trump’s America First “take or leave it” mentality. It makes sense why many countries would approve of him over Mr. Trump, especially Mexico.
Also, Mr. Trump is a highly unorthodox non-career politician. In certain countries, perhaps much of the developed world, his election would not even be possible. The closest parallel to him I can think of is former Italian Prime Minister and billionaire Silvio Berlusconi. President Biden is a standard politician through and through, making him more relatable for the powerful across the world.
Around 50% of respondents believe that we take their country’s interests in mind, interfere in other countries’ affairs and contribute to global peace and security. These results together challenge a longer term trend of respondents believing that we interfere without considering others’ interests or improving global peace and security.
I am quite encouraged by these results. During its history, the U.S. has engaged in a lot of activity that has justifiably pissed off other countries. I am glad our international presence is becoming more positive, albeit slowly.
In regards to the U.S. quality of life, those surveyed responded that we are generally as democratic and political stable as other wealthy nations, while being more dangerous and less tolerant. Appraisals of our movies, music, film and components of ‘soft power’ remain quite positive.
Overall, the international community gives us a mixed report card, yet it seems more positive than internal assessments. Naturally, a country’s own citizens know it the most. However, it’s valuable to listen to outside feedback, as it’s beyond easy to dwell on negativity and skew your image of yourself.
Perhaps Americans will become more positive-
Oh wait, we have a presidential election incoming.