In age of division, 92% of Americans say they still want to make the country better, according to a new study

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In age of division, 92% of Americans say they still want to make the country better, according to a new study
People watch the Independence Day parade in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2019. Photo by Saul Loeb /AFP via Getty Images)
  • Many issues divide Americans. But some core principles are alive and well.
  • More than 4 in 5 adults "believe in the American dream," a new study found.
  • But just 3 in 10 people believe American history is taught in a "fair and balanced" way.

By certain measures, people in the US are more bitterly divided than they've been in decades, particularly over politics.

But as the nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, some bedrock principals of American unity and common cause are decidedly solid, according to a new study from America250, an organization composed of a congressionally chartered commission and sister nonprofit foundation. America250 is tasked with commemorating the nation's semiquincentennial - the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the United States.

The vast majority of adults in the US - 92% - want to "make America a better place to live," while 83% "believe in the American dream of working hard," the study indicates.

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Nearly four in five adults said they'd rather live in the United States than anywhere else, and almost as many said they're "proud to be an American." More than seven in 10 consider themselves "patriotic."

Teenagers surveyed were slightly less effusive: 77% said they want to help make the nation a better place, while 74% agreed it's important to "have a good understanding of how the government works."

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Teens cited "non-white history," voting rights, the Civil War, and religion as historical topics they want to learn more about.

But education, in general, remains a wedge issue: Just three in 10 adults said they believe American history is taught in a "fair and balanced" manner, with nine in 10 saying the American education system needs to do a better job teaching civics.

These results come at a time when critical race theory, the study of how America's history of racism and discrimination continues to affect the nation today, has become one of education's most divisive issues.

Nevertheless, America250 officials, which are today formally launching a nationwide awareness campaign to commemorate the nation's 250th anniversary in 2026, remain hopeful.

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"In spite of all the challenges we have endured this past year, we are encouraged that Americans are united in working toward a better future," said Daniel M. DiLella, chairman of the US Semiquincentennial Commission, which is part of America250. "Our mission is to commemorate our 250th anniversary with inclusive programs that inspire Americans to renew and strengthen our daring experiment in democracy."

Social Science Research Solutions Inc., conducted the survey on America250's behalf and polled 1,249 adults and 327 teens from May 12 to May 26. Respondents were targeted to reflect the nation's gender, age, race, and ethnic diversity, as well as different education levels and geographic regions.

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