Poll: 53% Of Americans Feel The Government Is A Threat To Their Rights And Freedoms

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This is the first time the Pew poll has ever showed a majority for this question, which is surprising to me. Because what other force has been more responsible than government of one form or another for the oppression of the masses?

For the first time, a majority of Americans believe the federal government threatens their rights and freedoms, according to a poll released Thursday.

Fifty-three percent of Americans believe the government is a threat, and 43 percent do not, according to a Pew Research Center poll. Three-in-ten Americans believe government constitutes a major threat. In a poll conducted October 2003, only 45 percent saw government as a threat to their freedoms. Fifty-four percent do not.

Men are more likely than women to believe their rights are under attack, and Republicans (70 percent) are far more likely than Democrats (38 percent) to say so. Three-quarters of conservative Republicans say so, as do 55 percent of independents. And as President Barack Obama begins a legislative push for stricter gun control laws, 62 percent of those with a gun in the home believe their rights are threatened, compared to only 45 percent of non-gun owners.

And even Americans who don’t feel threatened by Washington distrust the government and are frustrated with it. Only 26 percent of Americans believe the government does the right thing most or all of the time, and 73 percent think it does the right thing rarely or not at all.

Distrust is highest among whites — 79 percent of them say government rarely does the right thing, compared to 59 percent of blacks and 54 percent of Hispanics. Distrust is also lowest among those 18-29. Thirty-five percent of them trust the government to do the right thing most or all of the time, 10 points higher than any other age group.

I think this might be another manifestation of America’s political schizophrenia. Even as majorities across ideological, racial and gender lines say they don’t trust the government there is outcry for government solutions to our problems. There is widespread opposition to ending massive government entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security despite demonstrable evidence of serious mismanagement.

Just like when voters call for term limits and then vote, mostly, for incumbents, they say they mistrust government even as they put far more trust in government than government has earned.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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