As we watch the horrifying Russian attack upon Ukraine, Americans everywhere are grateful for the peace that comes from the protection of two oceans and the world’s most powerful military. Our unique position as a continental power with only two land borders has long been a source of our security. In his 1838 address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln expressed it well when he said: “All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth … could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.” It was true then, when the United States was young, and it is even more true now, when we are a globe-spanning superpower.
Nevertheless, to borrow a phrase, freedom isn’t free—and so, we must ask ourselves what we might do if we were in the same situation as Ukraine is now. The scenario isn’t as hypothetical as it may seem. Although no massive foreign army is capable of invading the United States today, Americans are defending their homes and communities from a foreign invasion on our southern border. That invasion, a product of the malign intersection between human-trafficking cartels and the Mexican state, ought to be as compelling to Joe Biden as the Russian invasion is to Volodymyr Zelensky. But it isn’t, and it won’t be, and so the question arises: Who is willing to stand and fight?
As it happens, the latest Quinnipiac poll asked exactly this question, and the answers were revelatory. “If you were in the same position as Ukrainians are now,” asked Quinnpiac, “do you think that you would stay and figh, or leave the country?” It seems like an easy question, doesn’t it? On first reading, my initial thought was: What American would leave?
It turns out that quite a few would. We learn a few things about the difference between those who would leave and those who would fight.
Now let’s put the caveats up front. There’s no reason for women and children to stick around for a hypothetical war. As a mother of four, if the Russians were shelling my city, my first priority would be getting all four of the children out of harm’s way. With that in mind, we can’t read anything into the gender breakdown on this question, with 70 percent of men willing to stay and fight, and only 40 percent of women willing to do the same. That isn’t indicative of women’s lack of patriotic feeling; it just signals a proper ordering of priorities.
We can, though, read meaning into the political breakdowns here, because they are simply extraordinary. Of Republicans, 68 percent would stay and fight. Of independents, 57 percent would do the same. So far, so good. Both decided majorities, and both exceeding the all-adults figure of 55 percent. So, what’s dragging that last datum down? Well, it’s the Democratic respondents.
Only 40 percent of Democrats would stay and fight. A majority, at 52 percent, say they would leave the country.
This is the sort of thing that makes you sit up and take notice. This kind of question is not an actual predictor of action, of course, because we cannot know what happens until actual circumstances arise. What this does not mean is a partisan difference in a real-life defense of America. But there is something else communicated that remains meaningful. Unpeeling the question a bit, we can understand it as asking whether America is worth defending.
For ordinary people of ordinary sentiment, the answer is a clear ‘yes.’ But for committed partisans who have a deeply imbibed ideology that condemns America, the answer is increasingly ‘no.’ If you’re a self-identified Democrat now, that may well be you. That’s especially so if you are a member of the cohort that increasingly directs and defines the party—white, childless, upper-income, and holding an advanced degree. The likelihood that you’ve internalized a narrative—from Critical Race Theory, among other sources—that holds America to be iniquitous and conceived in sin is quite high.
The effect shows through numbers like this, with a majority unable to muster the will to fight even against an imaginary invasion. The lowest imaginable bar for action, words without deeds, cannot be cleared. The rest of us, the American majority, should take note—and understand that this sentiment (or lack of it) bleeds into real life. The people who don’t believe they would defend America against a Russian-style invasion are also the people who don’t defend our history, don’t defend our heritage, don’t defend our workers, and don’t defend our borders.
They’re wrong, of course. America is worth fighting for. For those of us who understand this truth, the question is how we win, and govern, against the efforts of those who do not possess that same faith.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.