Why Millennials Aren’t Patriotic

By Gabrielle Bosche Published on July 3, 2017

If you’ve ever wondered what’s wrong with Millennials, it could be what they think about America.

Or maybe I should say it’s what we think.

I am a Millennial living in our nation’s capital. Washington, D.C. is looking her absolute finest this time of year. Bright red, white and blue blows throughout the streets and there is an air of excitement as locals and tourists pack together on the mall to watch the fireworks explode over the monuments.

The 4th of July is my absolute favorite holiday—but it isn’t for many of my fellow Millennials.

The Millennial generation has earned plenty of labels. Patriotic certainly isn’t one of them.

Every generation of youth rebels against the establishment. They push boundaries and question the decisions of those in charge. We say they’re still “coming of age” or joke that “they haven’t paid taxes yet.”

But the lack of patriotic youth is different with Millennials, and it may not change anytime soon.

Millennials Don’t See Themselves as “Patriotic”

Millennials aren’t joining the military. A recent study found 85% of Millennials showing no interest serving in the military. Compared to Millennials, men from Generation X are twice as likely to have served in the military at some point in their lives. Baby Boomers are six times as likely. A young man who was born in 1963 was 11 times likelier to have served than a Millennial man is today.

Millennials don’t consider themselves patriotic. According to Pew Research, only about half of Millennials say the phrase “a patriotic person” describes them very well—with 35% saying this is a “perfect” description. Just compare that to 64% of Gen Xers, 75% of Boomers and 81% of Silents who say this describes them very well.

In my 11 years of researching Millennials, I have discovered some interesting, inspiring and daunting truths about my generation.

Millennials are more likely to consider themselves citizens of the world than citizens of the United States.

Millennials do not believe in American exceptionalism… or at least they would be very hesitant to call America, “The best country in the world.”

Millennials take a globalist approach to world affairs and are more concerned with how our actions are perceived and affected around the world than our parents were at their age.

The cause is threefold.

Millennials are less likely than other generations to associate with political parties, churches or affinity groups. We want to be seen as independent in our thoughts and actions and do not need to be associated with a particular country to feel like we belong here.

Millennials have been raised with anti-bullying campaigns and societal discussions about privilege and access. This has heightened our awareness to those who have and those who have not. This, mixed with how our history was framed in public and higher education has caused many in my generation to express disappointment in who we are as a world power.

And of course, we were given trophies for participating, which taught us that being #1 isn’t the only goal of a game. It matters how you win the game.

Not All Is Lost

Not all Millennials have lost respect for our country. I know many young people (myself included) consider pledging allegiance to the flag a privilege, not a duty. This is not an editorial on what is wrong with my generation. In truth, I believe Millennials are more equipped to change the world than our predecessors were at our age. I believe our social awareness can be used for America’s benefit, and our love of justice and pride for our country are not mutually exclusive.

As you celebrate America’s birthday with your family and friends, consider what Millennials love about America may not be what you love about America. It’s up to you to find out why.


Gabrielle hosts The Stream podcast UpNext! and is founder of Millennial Solution.

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  • Kevin Carr

    I believe your assessment is correct, the school system in particular has indoctrinated them into the citizen of the world/globalist view along with former President Obama. Many of them haven’t seen some of the roughest places in the world, and how America has even extended a hand to people that don’t like us. All the foreign aid we give away and get bashed in return. Even our poor live better than the poor in many other countries, no we are not perfect, but having been to some holes on this planet we should all thank God for that. Sometimes I do see our prosperity as a blessing and a curse. I believe many of them don’t know the cost of our liberty and are willing to give it away and are being duped by the Marxist ideology and are being told we are a bad actor in this world.

    • jim snead

      (the cost of our liberty and are willing to give it away and are being
      duped by the Marxist ideology and are being told we are a bad actor in
      this world) What M’s have not learned yet is to not only look at what is being sold, but, take a good look at the salesman – most are what my baby boomer gen. would call SNAKE OIL SALESMEN.

    • Sue

      I am a “Great Depression” child and a “World War II” teenager…..At age 90 I have lived through other wars also. I still believe that the U.S. is the best country, but I do know that people like Obama, who admitted to a newsman that he was a “Muslim” did a lot of harm to this country’s young people. He along with many University Professors & many entertainers have set a bad example. We in the U.S. have our faults, but it is still the best country in the world with all the “Freedom” that we have. The Freedom to dislike the US and the Freedom to love the US. After living all these yrs. I can truly say that I love my country the U.S.A with her faults; just as a parent would love her/his child even through disappointments over the years. If, as an adult, I feel that my Government is doing wrong….I should write my Representative about it and not go in the streets, screaming and yelling like some spoiled child. Our Government has a big obligation towards its people, but we the people also have our obligations…..We all have to get together and make the U.S.A. strong again. GO USA!….THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE LAND THAT I LOVE!!!!

  • Gary

    I’m a “baby boomer”, and I used to be patriotic. Not anymore. Since I learned just some of what really has happened and is happening in this country, I lost my patriotism. And I only know a little bit of what has happened. I can only imagine how I would feel if I knew the whole story. I got tired of pretending things are ok.

    • ARB

      Agreed. I’m a millenial, and I’m 100% willing to say the Constitution is the best set of ideals on which to found a nation. I can’t honestly say that the nation in any way captures the essence of those ideas anymore though. One can only be patriotic to the ideals of the US, or the reality of the US, and I certainly fall into the former camp.

  • Josh Shapiro

    If you don’t mind, please explain how reciting the pledge of allegiance (first written in the 1890s as a tactic to sell flags as a way of subsidizing a left-leaning newspaper, later amended in the 1950s with “Under God” as a Cold War tactic) is a privilege? Also, did you yourself serve in the military?

  • john

    Sounds like Millennials are a lot more Christian than the rest of us. Having a world view, rather than an American-centered one, would seem to be far more in line with how Jesus views things. Kudos!

    • Paul

      Caring about ones country, its founding principles and people isn’t in conflict with Christianity. Global govt is the handiwork of the antichrist not Christians.

      • James Wiske

        Considering how many Christians are so sure that we’re in the end times, and Jesus is due back any day and how excited they’re going to be when they’re raptured into the clouds, and how their own theology says that the Anti-Christ has to come to power for everything to eventually go down, why are they fighting against supposed Anti-Christs so much?

  • blackfeather

    millenials are being indoctrinated….check back in 20 years to see how it has gone for the morons.

  • Robert Hightower

    Our nation has grown faster than any in history. Outstripping the boundaries that were set long ago. Liberty with licentiousness is not freedom. We are becoming slaves to our passions.

  • Ryan

    50 years ago I learned what it was like to come under fire by enemies of this nation. 49 years ago two of my men were killed on this date by a seven year old kid. I did not lose my patriotism, it increased because we were fighting for an ideal that set people free. Those who opposed us were not so lucky to have a free nation to go home to.
    Those who opposed us back home were proud of supporting those whom we were fighting and in essence were aiding and abetting the enemy and helping to kill more Americans. Those who opposed us then taught those in the schools and colleges and universities who later became parents of the millennials.
    I believe God would want the millennials to be a force for Him, that is far from where they stand today. Globalism is against the God of creation, it is for the god of this world. Patriotism is practiced by our enemies, it helps them to keep coming against us when they see patriotism failing in the U.S.
    I see millennials as those who would give away this country so they wouldn’t get hurt trying to defend it. There are those who do have the courage to fight for this country from the ranks of the millennials, and I appreciate them. But there are to few of them to keep defending those who would rather quit before getting hurt than take a stand for all our forefathers fought and sacrificed for this great nation. You could say I am disappointed in the millennials with their world view lining up on the wrong side of history.

    • Andrew Mason

      I would suggest some millennials don’t see why their country is worth defending since so much of it has already been given away. On the other hand some millennials, while not prepared to fight for their country, might be prepared to serve their family, their church, their community etc.

      • Ryan

        If they don’t see their country as worth defending it, more than likely, is because their parents and or grandparents gave them the idea. More millennials know only how to use their phones more than they know how to talk to their neighbor and including their parents. I have observed groups of them in the halls of schools or in parks or on street corners texting or looking on the internet rather than talking to each other.
        There are very few millennials who have a desire to work, they have gotten used to the idea that someone else will do it for them if they wait or stall long enough. That comes from the idea of socialism, let someone else do it for you. Very addictive ideology run by people who have an aversion to working. Hard work is what it takes to build and maintain a nation or anything else. Laziness is the quickest way to destroy any nation when people are taught that the government will do it for them.

        • Andrew Mason

          Actually I’m thinking of the people you see on American campuses issuing death threats and acts of violence against those who express the wrong view, or have the wrong shade of skin – something from the white end of the spectrum. What of the media who consistently peddle a particular ideology rather than simply report on the facts? Or what of those officials seeking to indoctrinate children at school, or even kindergarten in homosexuality, transgenderism, or gender fluidity? What of the various organisations and individuals seeking to expel religion from the public sphere, and to punish even criminalise those who practice it? If this is all the norm for American society why would you defend such a society? In fact why on Earth wouldn’t you seek to destroy such an intolerant bigoted Marxist society?

          • Ryan

            We are not an intolerant, bigoted, Marxist society. We are a very tolerant society that only has leftist bigots who are intolerant to anyone who isn’t like them. It is the left who are creating the problems in this country today because they have been taught Marxism will end all problems. Socialism has been around for over 200 years chasing a column of smoke disguised as a rainbow called, “utopia.” History has proven there isn’t any such place.
            You can go to your safe space now.

          • Andrew Mason

            I partially agree with what you say, the issue is our perceptions are influenced by our environment. If we live in an environment where the intolerance I mentioned above is the norm or in control, it doesn’t matter if other communities, the Constitution etc present and promote radically different values.

            Don’t think my kind is welcome in any of the Safe Space areas I’ve heard about! 🙂

  • Matthew Wade

    For those commenting below that they are no longer, or have never been, patriotic…..let’s examine what exactly patriotism is. Is patriotism a love for and sense of protectionism over a piece of ground? Is patriotism a love for and sense of protection over a certain group (race, creed, religion, etc.) of peoples? Or rather, is perhaps patriotism a love and devotion and sense of protection over a set of ideas/beliefs/perceived rights/freedoms? Or is it something else entirely? While I think it can be argued that maybe it is the first or second thing I mentioned, I believe it is more of the third thing….and ESPECIALLY the third thing when it comes to America. Regardless of man’s corruption (and yes corruption happens in many ways and to many degrees) of the most revolutionary and let’s not forget FREE form of government, the ideas, beliefs and perceived rights that were instilled in the U.S. Constitution remain to this day something ANY man or woman with a heartbeat should be willing to fight for, defend and yes even die for!!! Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Can it be corrupted (and has it been)? Absolutely yes. But the ideas of living free; among others who may be different from you, look different from you, have religions different from you…having the ability to own the fruits of your personal labor and retain those assets for your children….having the opportunity to advance in life economically….having the opportunity to believe in the god of your choosing (peaceably)….those are things we in America take for granted WAY too often! Do you want to give those away? Are you tired of those liberties? Or are you simply ignorant of those things that make THIS country (THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA) the GREATEST country in the history of mankind??? If you are too stupid, ignorant or flat out dishonest about the ideas that established our country and how truly remarkable they were and STILL are……then LEAVE! It’s not that hard. America doesn’t make anyone stay here. Get the hell out!!!

    • Stevie

      Let me guess…you’re an old guy?

      • Al Wilson

        STFU you ignorant, stupid, unintelligent, uneducated POS!!!!!

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