Op-ed: A dose of patriotism
Austin Cirillo challenges us to be proud to be American
I believe it is appropriate, and even ironic due to the fact we attend American University, to discuss America. Gallup polls have questioned the average United States citizen asking, “How proud are you to be an American – extremely proud, very proud, moderately proud, only a little proud or not at all proud?” Based off of this polling, the percentage of Americans to answer ‘extremely proud’ has dropped from 70 percent in 2003 to 52 percent this year. Not only is this an 18 percent drop, but this is the lowest number that has ever been polled.
Much of the negativity that has recently permeated the country is due to renewed conversations on the effects of extensive military involvement abroad, the decline in rank of our education and healthcare systems, and our mass incarceration rates that are the highest in the world. Although there is an abundant amount of other statistics that could further confirm the state of ‘mayhem’ that the United States currently resides in, I will attempt to reverse some of this negativity by demonstrating the many ways the United States still remains number one.
Despite recent economic recession and stagnant growth, we still have the world’s largest GDP. According to the World Bank, our GDP last year was 17.95 trillion dollars. Second place was China at 10.87 trillion. Our GDP is higher than third place Japan, fourth place Germany, fifth place United Kingdom, sixth place France, seventh place India and eighth place Italy combined. Somehow, someway, the United States remains the economic powerhouse of the world. Along with the GDP, the United States household spending is the highest in the world. We consume over 25 percent of the world’s household consumption. One out of every four goods that are consumed go to someone in the United States. This makes us the number one consumer market in the world – and by far.
We also help feed the world. When it comes to overall food production, we lag behind China and India. Our country does lead in corn production and other specific foods, but when it comes to overall food production we rank third. Under the topic of food exports, the United States takes the lead. We export $118.3 billion worth of food every year, more than any other country. That being said, even though America is notorious for having high rates of obesity, every two years at the Olympics we show just how fit we are. We have the most gold medals (1,022), the most silver medals (794), the most bronze medals (704) and the most medals total (2,520). Our gold medal count is higher than the total medal count of every other country, not including the former Soviet Union.
The military remains the most well-funded military to ever inhabit the earth. The military spending dwindled from $700 billion to the $600 billion that it averages around now. This extreme expense allows for technological advancement and progress to outperform any of our expectations. We were the first country to create a nuclear weapon and continue to innovate when it comes to our military might. On top of this, our defense spending outdoes the next 20 countries on the list combined. Furthermore, when we think about the United States and its work abroad, we must remember that we are the country that contributes to more foreign aid than any other nation. 34 billion dollars in foreign aid is distributed to over 100 different nations. The nation we currently give the most federal aid to is Israel. Just about half of the nations worldwide receive the benefit of U.S. foreign aid.
Just taking a look around the American University campus, this next piece should not be a surprise. Students from foreign countries flock to colleges and universities in the United States because of the quality of education this country provides. The United States holds 181 of the top 750 best universities in the world, compared to second place China which consists of 57 of the top 750 top universities. Even when it comes to music, films, literature or any other part of American culture, we tend to have the most global influence in the world. Any country you visit will most likely play music and watch movies that originate from the United States.
So, if I were to ever be polled with the question of, “How proud are you to be an American – extremely proud, very proud, moderately proud, only a little proud or not at all proud,” I would firmly answer extremely proud. We may have our setbacks and flaws, but looking at how far we have come and where we stand in the world today, the United States is the greatest country in the world.
Austin Cirillo is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs.