Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, Americans have a very positive attitude towards their rights and freedoms. Today, 20 years later, there are not so many.
This is based on a poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Public Affairs Research Center, which is based on work conducted in 2011, ten years after a critical moment in American history. Some questions were also raised in the polls conducted in 2013 and 2015.
The relatively unanimous view among Americans is that ten years after the terrorist attacks, the government has done a good job in protecting many basic rights, which has led to large-scale reforms of the country’s intelligence services and the establishment of agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security. Accompanying these changes are the hidden concerns of excessive government intervention, although the Americans as a whole are still quite active.
In the years since then, this attitude has faded, and now far fewer people say that the government has done a good job protecting rights such as freedom of speech, voting rights, and the right to bear arms.
For example, a poll found that 45% of Americans now say that they think the U.S. government is doing a good job in defending freedom of speech, while 32% say it is doing poorly, and 23% say they have neither. The percentage of people saying that the government is doing well has fallen from 71% in 2011 and 59% in 2015.
Dee Geddes, 73, a retiree in Chamberlain, South Dakota, said she was frustrated by the government’s apparent lack of ability to protect the amount of private information available, especially online.
“When I can find almost any information about anyone on the Internet, it bothers me. It makes me feel a little naked,” said Geddes, a self-proclaimed Republican. “It does bother me how much the government knows about us, but it can be traced back to the fact that there is too much time. This is frustrating.”
About half of people now say that the government is doing a good job of protecting religious freedom, compared with three-quarters in 2011.
49% to 27% of Americans now believe that the government is not doing a good job of protecting the right to equal protection in accordance with the law, rather than doing a good job. In 2011, opinions reversed. More people believed that the government did a good job than it did a bad job, at 48% and 37%, respectively.
The poll also found that 54% of Americans said that “sometimes it is necessary for the government to sacrifice some rights and freedoms to fight terrorism,” compared with 64% a decade ago. Now, 44% of people say this is not necessary at all.
Most Democrats said that sometimes this is necessary, which is basically consistent with previous AP-NORC polls. But Republicans are now very divided. 46% said it was sometimes necessary, and 53% said it was never necessary. In 2011, 69% of Republicans said it was sometimes necessary, and in 2015, 62% said the same.
23-year-old Brandon Wilson is a business and animation student at the College of DePage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. He claims to be a conservative. He says he understands September The measures taken after the 11th initially seemed to restrict the rights of Americans, but in the end he felt that these actions were for greater benefit.
“I think this is a good idea,” Wilson said of increasing airline passenger checks and other measures. “The government is helping the public, and overall, it is trying to improve people’s lives.”
However, opinion polls show that, overall, Americans are becoming more and more vigilant about government surveillance in the name of national security.
The poll asked about various rights and freedoms, including many of the rights and freedoms clearly outlined in the constitutional bill of rights, as well as some rights and freedoms that are protected by laws and court rulings.
The survey found that 44% of people think that the government has done a good job in protecting freedom of the press, while 26% believe that the government has done a bad job. In 2011 and 2015, about six out of ten people said that the government did a good job.
Americans have roughly the same views on how the government protects freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. About one-third said it was done well, and about one-third said it was not well done. In 2011 and 2015, opinions were slightly more negative than negative, although less than half of Americans said the country did a good job.
Tony Gay, a 60-year-old retiree living in Cincinnati, said that he generally supports the government’s initiatives to protect civil liberties. He said that his 10 years of service in the military helped reinforce his view that sacrifice is sometimes necessary to preserve freedom.
Guy said: “If there is no one to protect it, you can’t enjoy freedom 24/7.” “So when they restrict travel, I totally agree, because it is to ensure my safety and ensure that the people around me are safe.”
43% of Americans believe that the U.S. government has done a good job protecting voting rights, while 37% said it has done a poor job. In contrast, 70% of the respondents said that they did a good job in 2015, and 84% said that they did well in 2011.
Americans are now also divided on whether the government is doing well or not in protecting the right to bear arms, 35% vs. 36%, but in 2011, more people believed that the government did a good job rather than a bad one, 57% vs. 27%.
Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that the government has done a good job protecting multiple rights and freedoms, including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to own and bear weapons.
But Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe that the government has done a poor job of implementing equal protection in accordance with the law, with a ratio of 54% to 46%. Democrats and Republicans have similar views on how the government protects voting rights, and their views are obviously not as positive as previous polls.
Gay said that even though he is relatively satisfied with the government’s protection of basic civil liberties, he believes that regular reviews of these policies and those who make them should be necessary.
“It’s like when you are in politics, you are free to play,” Guy said. “It gives me a mixed feeling about who is watching us.”
Procurement and methodology
AP-NORC conducted a poll of 1,729 adults from August 12 to 16, using a sample from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak group, which aims to represent the American population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.