A recent Gallup survey is getting some attention, and it doesn’t relate to the presidential race – or at least not directly.
Americans were asked, “Do you think the federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens, or not?” Amazingly, 49% of Americans responded that the federal government does pose an immediate threat.
When nearly half of Americans view the federal government in this light, it indicates something of a shift in public opinion.
For those of us who love liberty, there are different takeaways from this latest survey. They are not all positive, but overall it is encouraging news.
The bad part about the results of this poll is when you break it down and compare it to past polls. 65% of those identifying themselves as Republicans or leaning Republican currently view the government as a threat. Only 32% of Democrats and those leaning Democrat view the government as a threat.
The problem is that if you go back before 2009, the Democrats and those leaning Democrat had a higher percentage of those who viewed the government as a threat than the Republicans and those who lean Republican. In other words, the parties reversed as soon as Bush left office and Obama entered office.
This shows that some of this is just partisan politics. There is nothing I can say to infuriate Republicans and Democrats more (at the same time) than the following: Much of what Obama has done is a continuation of what Bush did.
There is certainly a difference in rhetoric between Bush and Obama, but the actual policies are not that much different. They have both had their wars. Bush’s wars were bigger, but Obama has also continued them to a certain extent.
Obama gave us Obamacare with the Democratic Congress, while Bush gave us Bushcare (Medicare prescription drugs) with the Republican Congress.
They have both vastly expanded federal control over education and they have both overseen massive deficit spending.
My point is that many people overlook the similarities and just see the party in charge. But even here, we have to consider the party that controls Congress too.
I believe that party politics take people’s attention off the big picture. They fail to realize that the establishment is in control. If you end up with Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton, does it really matter who wins? It will matter a lot to a lot of people, but the establishment wins either way.
The Good News
Even though the Gallup survey shows a flip of the parties in how they answer the question depending on which party controls the presidency, the overall trend is still good news.
When this same question was first asked back in 2003, less than one-third said that the federal government posed an immediate threat. Of course, the September 11 attacks were still fresh in people’s minds at that point. The numbers gradually increased from there, but we have now reached a point where almost half of Americans feel this way.
There are different reasons for this opinion to be sure, and the Gallup poll sought to find out why people thought government is a threat. 19% said there are too many laws and government is too big in general. 15% were concerned about violations of civil liberties. 12% are worried about gun control.
Overall, the people who view the government as an immediate threat just think it is too big, too corrupt, and too involved in people’s lives. This is encouraging news.
There is definitely a discontent out there that this country has not experienced in a long time. You can even see this with the presidential race.
In the Republican race, Trump, Fiorina, and Carson have a majority of the support right now. These are the three people who have not previously held political office. This is not at all an endorsement of any of these people, but it shows that many Americans are looking for something different.
Even on the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has gotten quite a bit of attention. While he is a socialist and very anti-liberty, I still believe that some of his support resides in discontent with the status quo. It is something of a protest vote for some people.
In addition, the resignation of John Boehner is indicative of the discontent. He likely resigned because he knew that the Republicans were going to throw him out as Speaker of the House.
I think people should view the federal government as a threat. That is what government is. All government policies are backed up by force or the threat of force. And you can’t find a bigger government than that of the United States, where nearly $4 trillion per year is spent.
The only way to shrink the federal government and to significantly reduce its power is to have a significant shift in public opinion. The people must stop consenting to the government’s encroachment into their lives.
Hopefully this Gallup poll is showing us a trend that will continue.