Francesco Duina

 

On his book Broke and Patriotic: Why Poor Americans Love Their Country

Cover Interview of March 25, 2018

Lastly

What we learn in Broke and Patriotic about the mindsets and beliefs of this particular segment of American society hopefully brings the readers to several conclusions. First, national identity can give citizens an incredible sense of dignity. This means that, at least for this segment of the population, nothing can yet replace that identity: globalization, for instance, while a powerful force does not have a hold on people’s deepest feelings about themselves and the world. Second, we should never question the depth of thinking, sophistication, or knowledge of those who might have less than we do. This reminds me of Hillary Clinton’s unfortunate “deplorables” comment in the 2016 presidential elections.

Third, American social cohesion greatly depends on the deeply-rooted attachment to the social contract felt by many of its citizens. This is certainly a source of social stability. At the same time, it also means that great upheaval is in fact quite possible: should they reach the conclusion that their government has betrayed the core values of the nation, they could in fact demand drastic changes. As one First Gulf War veteran told me, America’s military pledges its allegiance to the Constitution, not the government.

Finally, there is still an enormous amount of goodwill and love of the country left among the most neglected and discriminated-against citizens. They are willing to serve, help, and mobilize for their country. This is both moving as well as a lesson to those with more wealth. If those Americans with so little in financial terms are willing to aid the country and their fellow citizens, what should those with more do? Moreover, what do those richer Americans owe to their poorer compatriots?