Thursday January 29, 2015
According to our civic folklore, Americans are more devoted to freedom than any other nationality on earth. But it is increasingly appears that this dogma is a relic of bygone times.
A Gallup poll last July asked a thousand Americans: “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what to do with your life?” Only twenty-one percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied.
Admittedly, the percentage of Americans who say they don’t have sufficient freedom has doubled since the previous Gallup poll on this question in 2006, when only 9% complained. That number was stunningly low, considering the controversies back then over the Patriot Act and repressive “free speech zones,” and the first round of explosive revelations of National Security Agency illegal wiretaps on thousands of Americans. Obama in 2008 exploited the Bush administration’s dreadful civil liberties record to portray himself as America’s constitutional savior.
Jon Clifton, the managing director of the Gallup World Poll, observed last summer that the 2006 freedom poll “ numbers make sense in terms of our classic self-perception. The recent numbers do not.” But has the “classic self-perception” been bogus for decades?