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Editor’s note: This is another in a series of monthly “Freedom Index” polls conducted exclusively for WND by the public-opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies.
America hasn’t reached the point of encrypted notes being passed along by trenchcoat-clad men with turned-up collars and furtive glances – yet. But a new poll shows Americans now more than almost any time previously believe they are losing their freedoms under President Obama.
“There is evidence in this latest index survey, 18 months into his presidency, that attitudes across a range of topics related to personal freedom are headed down a steep slope and that ground that has been lost in the minds of voters may be very difficult for Obama to climb again,” said pollster Fritz Wenzel, whose Wenzel Strategies delivered the bad news in the July WND Freedom Index poll.
The poll was conducted using an automated technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers nationwide over the period of July 15-17, and the results have a margin of error of 2.51 percentage points.
“Just one in three Americans said they believe that their personal freedoms have increased during Obama’s presidency, which is a decrease of 3 percent since the last measurement was taken two months ago,” Wenzel said. “It was notable that erosion among independents nationwide was substantial, as 50 percent of the politically nonaligned said there had been a substantial decrease in freedoms under Obama – up 6 percent from just two months ago.”
When asked whether they had seen an increase or decrease in personal freedoms under Obama, more than two in three said there had been from a moderate to a large decrease.
WND Freedom Index
The responses were graded on a scale of 1 to 5 with even the middle ground – the responses labeled neutral – indicating at least some loss of freedoms, Wenzel told WND.
Among Democrats, one in three have noticed they no longer can do as they previously could, and that total surges to more than 90 percent for the Republicans, and, even among independents, it’s almost 70 percent.
U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, noted just today the issues facing the American public.
There need to be solutions, he said, “but we’re not going to get there if the president continues to take money and freedom away from American employers – whether it’s through the ‘stimulus’ bill, Obamacare, the national energy tax or this financial regulatory bill,” he said. “With 3 million jobs lost and unemployment at 9.5 percent, and with trillion-dollar deficits, it’s clear to everyone except the president that his big-government agenda is not working.”
The WND Freedom Index, which is based on a 100-point scale drawn from poll respondents’ answers to 10 questions that sample different aspects of freedom such as speech, association, worship, assembly and more, is set up to indicate a dead-even rating at 50. Results above that figure signal positive feelings about freedom in America; ratings below that signal negative feelings.
The first poll revealed an index of 57.6 for June of 2009. The index then plunged last winter when Obama was pushing for the takeover by federal agents of the process to make health-care decisions for Americans, and it has yet to recover.
The July index was 46.5, second lowest only to the December 2009 index of 46.4 at the peak of Obama’s push for the nationalization of health care.
The new demands under the health-care plan, which still are being revealed, include such things as a government requirement for each person to be assessed by “body mass index” to combat obesity.
Such moves are causing more than alarm these days, the index reveals.
“Nearly three-quarters of Americans nationwide said they feel governments at all levels are using technology to intrude into their personal private lives. A total of 71 percent said as much, up three percent from the May survey,” Wenzel reported. “Nearly one in three Americans – 29 percent – said they believe governments at all levels have engaged in a great amount of intrusion into their privacy.
“Even 55 percent of Democrats, who generally defend President Obama and other government leaders and institutions on such subjects, said they believe there has been at least some encroachment by governments in the private lives of citizens by using technology,” he reported.
The survey revealed that some 60 percent of Americans have a concern they may be punished or subjected to retribution for what they think, and a slightly higher percentage are concerned about government investigation of those with whom they associate.
“What continues to be remarkable is the fact that a substantial majority of Americans said a typical citizen should expect at least some penalty, punishment or retribution for speaking their minds freely in public – 61 percent said as much,” said Wenzel. “When the question is phrased slightly differently so as to identify whether respondents themselves feel threatened about voicing their true feelings, the percentage was only slightly better, as 55 percent said they personally fear harm, punishment, government investigation or some other penalty for speaking freely in public.”
Despite Obama’s ongoing outreach to Muslims – the chief of NASA recently said he’d been told to make that a top priority – or perhaps because of it, substantially more than half of Americans say they worry about punishment for the way they worship.
“And, just as remarkable is the percentage of Americans, 61 percent, who said they censor their own thoughts before speaking because of the fear of some sort of backlash,” Wenzel said. “Some self-censoring is socially appropriate when trying to spare the feelings or opinions of others, but that so many Americans do so specifically out of fear of punishment or retribution is absolutely stunning.
“The chill has settled particularly on Republicans and independents, while Democrats feel much less concerned about censoring what they think before they speak out of fear,” he said. “Among Republicans, 72 percent said they do a moderate to heavy amount of self-censoring, compared to just 44 percent of Democrats who said the same thing, more proof that political correctness skews heavily to the left. Independents felt nearly as threatened as Republicans, as 70 percent said they do at least a moderate amount of self-censoring.”
Wenzel noted the measurement has fallen precipitously at times when Washington is pushing for more federal takeovers, and that doesn’t bode well for the future.
“Because we are just now starting to learn just how much new interference with our freedoms that we will face from new federal legislation signed into law by Obama, and because there are no signs the economy might recover enough strength to distract us, it is my sense that this index could go lower – perhaps much lower – before it gets markedly better,” he warned.
See detailed results of survey questions:
If there were a controversial cause about which you felt strongly, would you be afraid to attend a local rally to voice your opinion because of fear of retribution, penalty or government investigation?