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.
A new poll shows that while Americans continue to feel they are losing their freedoms under President Obama’s agenda of government takeover of private companies, health care and energy, they are beginning to fight back with public statements such as bumper stickers and political buttons.
“This may well represent a mainstream rebellion of the masses who are tired of being cowed by a national mainstream media that has offered little objective criticism of the president,” said Fritz Wenzel of Wenzel Strategies.
The August WND Freedom Index poll was conducted Aug. 13-16 with an automated technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers nationwide. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.78 percentage points.
“It was notable that a significantly higher percentage of Americans feel emboldened to put political bumper stickers on their cars or to wear a political button expressing their feelings. This may well reflect the increased political activism we are seeing across the political spectrum, but whatever the reason, 71 percent said they feel very free or mostly free to express their beliefs using these communications tools, up from 60 percent just a month ago,” Wenzel said.
“There was a similar increase in the percentage of Americans who said they are feeling free these days to talk about their political or religious beliefs openly in public places. That percentage increased this month to 64 percent, up from 54 percent last month,” he continued. “Not surprisingly, there was a marked decrease in the percentage who said they self-censor themselves when talking publicly about politics or religion, or any other sensitive topic. The percentage of those who said they either never or seldom self-censor their opinions before speaking has increased from 39 percent last month to 48 percent now. ”
He said the poll suggests that while Americans are worried about a loss of freedoms to an “activist government,” they now “are more willing than before to stand up to these perceived losses in freedom.”
The bottom line is that the Freedom Index ticked upward in August to 47.1 from July’s near-record low of 46.5 on a 100-point scale. The assessment is based on poll respondent answers to 10 questions that sample different aspects of freedom in America, including freedom of speech, association, worship and assembly.
A rating of 50 is dead even, with ratings above that point signaling positive feelings about freedom in America and ratings below that signaling negative feelings.
The survey showed 55 percent of Americans believe there has been a drop in freedoms for Americans under Obama’s policies – up a dramatic 8 percent from 47 percent just 30 days earlier.
“Democrats have been a big defender of the Obama administration on this topic in the year that we have been running this question, but there was a precipitous drop even among Democrats who said Obama has presided over an increase in freedom. In July, 65 percent of Democrats said they believe Obama has caused an increase in freedom in the lives of Americans. But now, just 47 percent agreed with that statement,” he said.
“Among Republicans, there was actually a small increase in the percentage who said they believed Obama has promoted personal freedom, as 9 percent said he has increased personal freedom, up from 6 percent last month,” Wenzel said.
“However, that marginal improvement among Republicans was more than offset by the percentage of political independents who said Obama had increased freedoms. Among independents, 25 percent said he has increased personal freedoms, down from 30 percent last month.”
Further, Wenzel said the survey reveals that regarding the public’s perception of their personal freedoms, “the scales have tilted against the president – and now a majority believe there has been a decrease in freedom.”
“There are lots of polling data points that show the Obama administration in trouble these days, but this is among the worst possible developments because Americans value their freedoms so very highly. It is at the heart of the American dream, and they see it slipping away as Washington gobbles up industry after industry and regulates more aspects of our daily lives. If public opinion on this question continues to slip, or even just stays where it is, the Obama agenda is all but dead,” Wenzel said.
Because of a number of factors, Wenzel said, including the freedom people are beginning to feel again to express themselves, combined with their dropping support for Obama, it “likely means that those who oppose him are now tossing aside concern that they might be characterized as racist or bigoted.”
“When you contrast the loss of freedoms that people feel under the Obama administration with the determination of these people to freely express their views more now than before, the sum total is an America that is stiffening its spine against its own government. Two months before an important midterm election, this spells great danger for the incumbent party,” said Wenzel.
The poll also revealed that more than 47 percent of Americans believe there is intrusion on the part of the government into personal lives using cameras, scanners, electronic health records and the like.
But those who fear expressing their opinion at local rallies has dropped to under 15 percent, those who self-censor thoughts is down to under 23 percent, those who feel not free to express their ideas was down to under 22 percent and those who do not feel free to express their political or religious beliefs in public is down to under 18 percent.
The first poll revealed an index of 57.6 for June 2009. The index then plunged last winter when Obama was pushing for the federal takeover of health-care decisions, 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 health-care push.