chapter  3
The Enduring Infl uence of Ethnicity and History
Pages 35

For many observers, it is axiomatic that white Americans have been absorbed into a single culture due to the American “melting pot.” The melting pot myth is a cornerstone of the American historical narrative. This narrative suggests that, wherever immigrants came from, once in the United States they were eventually incorporated into an Anglo-Protestant culture that values, according to the late Samuel Huntington,

the English language; Christianity; religious commitment; English concepts of the rule of law, including the responsibility of rulers and the rights of individuals; and dissenting Protestant values of individualism, the work ethic, and the belief that humans have the ability and the duty to try to create a heaven on earth, a “city on a hill.” 1

When political surveys ask respondents to name their genealogical background, if an individual identifi es as white and non-Hispanic, there is not typically a follow-up question to determine whether they predominantly identify as English, German, Swedish, Polish, or any other European nationality. There is sound logic to this practice. Nonetheless, the tendency to discount ethnic and other historical differences between white Americans may mask some important lingering political differences among white ethnic groups. This chapter will consider whether the melting pot narrative is true for whites, at least with regard to political behavior.