USA Today ran a story on Tuesday with the remarkable slant that 92% of Americans believe that their rights are being threatened. According to a Harris/Purple Project poll, nearly everyone in the country thinks that their rights are under siege from one group or another – though of course no one really agrees about which rights are being endangered. 48% think that freedom of speech is under assault. 47% think the right to bear arms is being threatened. 41% think that the right to equal justice is being attacked.
“When you frame something as a threat, it creates a bit of a political response, and it creates division and encampments of special interest,” said Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema.
We suppose this is Gerzema’s way of saying that politicians are more guilty of drumming up panic about disappearing rights than actually striving to take them away. In some ways, we have to agree with his perception about this. In others…well, the threats are manifestly part of the politicians’ promised platforms. No Republican (much less an NRA activist) forced Beto O’Rourke to say, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15s.”
Here’s where the article gets interesting, though. From USA Today:
When asked what rights and freedoms Americans would miss if they were taken away – rather than which ones are threatened – poll respondents’ concerns generally ticked upward.
Sixty-three percent said they would miss freedom of speech if that right was taken away, while nearly half would miss freedom of expression (46%) and the right to equal justice (45%).
“When you look at the things we really value, what makes America so special is these core tenets of our Constitution,” Gerzema said. “I just find it interesting to note how much Americans really value this.”
Yeah, it’s…interesting, all right.
For some reason, Gerzema seems to actually be impressed that the 63% figure is that high, which really doesn’t bode well, since this is a dude whose entire career is based around polling the public.
Now, if it were 75%, we’d be on his side. You can always count on approximately a quarter of the American population to respond to polls like absolute, drooling morons. But 63% is much too low. It signals that there’s a whole lot of people walking around the country today that have no clue how good they actually have it. That breeds total complacency, if not outright boredom. And when people get complacent, there are always authoritarians waiting in the wings to seize the moment.