Believes it is a threat to their personal freedom
(Billy Hallowell) The American people are overwhelmingly frustrated by the federal government, with public trust in the institution near historic lows. To add to these troubling indicators, a new Pew Research Center study also finds that, for the first time, a majority of the U.S. public believes that the government threatens their “personal rights and freedoms.”
This latter finding is, perhaps, the most shocking, as 53 percent of Americans answered affirmatively when asked whether Washington poses a threat to these sentiments; 43 percent responded “no,” with an additional four percent claiming that they are unsure. When examining past trends, it is clear that there has been a great deal of growth in this arena.
Consider the Nov. 2001 proportions, in which only 30 percent answered “yes” to that same question and Aug. 2002, when only 32 percent did the same. Here’s a chart showcasing trends surrounding threats to personal rights and freedoms from 1995 through 2013:
Photo Credit: Pew Research Center
Much of this change is partisan in nature. Take, for instance, the differences in trending data between Republicans and Democrats. Pew reports:
The growing view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms has been led by conservative Republicans. Currently 76% of conservative Republicans say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms and 54% describe the government as a “major” threat. Three years ago, 62% of conservative Republicans said the government was a threat to their freedom; 47% said it was a major threat.
By comparison, there has been little change in opinions among Democrats; 38% say the government poses a threat to personal rights and freedoms and just 16% view it as a major threat.
Trouble for the government doesn’t end here, though. With the ongoing debate over the contraceptive mandate and the perception that federal authorities are unfairly cracking down on gun rights, among other issues, trust and faith in the institution has waned. Shockingly, only 26 percent of respondents believe that Washington will do the right thing “just about always or most of the time.” On the flip side, the vast majority — 73 percent — say that the government can only be trusted sometimes or not at all.
Read more: The Blaze