Though conservatives (especially of the Ford-truck-buying persuasion) often use the language of nationalism, I wonder if any Americans really think of themselves as Americans the way an Englishman thinks of himself as fundamentally British, or an Irishman as Irish.
The emphasis on individual autonomy inherent in our very founding seems to have created a situation in which we identify more with, if nothing else, our ideologies than with the nation itself.
Indeed, I would argue that we do not have a nation at all, but a collective of autonomous individuals loosely bound together by law. American culture seeks to avoid definition, and instead is obsessed with ‘diversity’, those things which do not define but rather differentiate.
I find it interesting that if someone asks you where you are from, or about your ‘racial’ heritage (as bogus a concept as that is), Americans will tend to talk about their old-world heritage. I’m not an Idahoan, I’m an Irish-American. Or African-American. Or Scotish, or Latin or…whatever bit of ethnicity you’ve decided to latch on to out of your Heinz-57 family tree.
We are a country of wannabe-expatriates. This partially has to do with the historical formation of our nation, and maybe the memory of that has just not worked itself out yet. But it is interesting that we find being an American so blase, and desire to racially and culturally identify ourselves (in however tenuous a fashion) with some other nation or, failing that, with an ideology. And that is somehow part of the very definition of the American experiment.