The amazing sacrifice and solidarity of WWII Americans

I attach this PDF chart, thanks to Todd Washburn at Harvard, from Hadley Cantril, The Human Dimension: Experiences in Policy Research (1967, p. 48). It is based on Cantril’s polling for President Franklin D. Roosevelt during WWII. (Apologies that PDF runs vertical rather than horizontal)  Note: The methodology may not quite be up to 21st century standards, but results are amazing and powerful nonetheless.

My colleague, Robert Putnam, has noted that as late as 1945 (after years of the draft; gas rubber, and food rationing; Victory gardens; Bond drives; Civilian Defense Corps; battle casualties; wage and price controls; etc.) that all required untold sacrifice on the part of the Americans, 40% still thought “the Government hasn’t asked people to make enough sacrifices,” down from 65% of Americans in late 1942.

It shows an incredible ability of Americans to rally behind calls to sacrifice for the good of the country and the world. And it makes one long for American leadership that effectively could have called for such sacrifice immediately in the wake of 9-11 or now in asking for energy consumption to forestall the inevitable global warming if we don’t take concerted action.

[If you want to learn more about the sacrifice of Americans during WWII, read Bowling Alone (By Robert D. Putnam), pp. 268-272.]


One response to “The amazing sacrifice and solidarity of WWII Americans

  1. I believe that Americans always have been and still are willing to pitch in for the common good. However, the desire to pitch in can be eroded if we start to feel that significant segments of the population are not pitching in–instead are looking for a free ride.

    Like most Americans, I feel sorry for people who work for companies that have made bad business decisions. I also feel sorry for those people who got mortgages that they cannot afford to pay.

    But feeling sorry for them is not the same as wanting to bail them out.

    In the American that I believe in, adults and businesses are free to make their own decisions. If they make good decisions, they should reap the rewards. If they make bad decisions, they should suffer the penalties.

    Penalizing those individuals and business who have made good decisions to bail out those who have made bad decisions is not the American way–that’s the socialist way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s