The Threat of the Federal Government


[Note: This post was initially misclassified as a Liveblog. See here for the correctly placed post under Longer Twitter.]

Under President Obama, the belief that the government poses “an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens” is held by nearly half of all Americans, according to Gallup.


In terms of presidential politics, the fact that the biggest leap came between 2003 and 2006 is interesting.  To be sure, after 9/11 and the passage of the Patriot Act, civil libertarians were right to express concern about the new powers being claimed by the government.  But the Patriot Act passed in October 2001.  What characterized the later six years of President Bush’s time in office was a concerted and constant press by the news and entertainment media to make the Republican administration appear as a threat.

Another chart farther down at the above link bolsters this point, showing that, after a dip in the threat assessment by supporters of both major political parties from 2004 to 2005, Democrats increased in their sense of a federal threat from 45% to 59%, while Republicans only increased from 23% to 24% by late 2006.

By the next time the party question was asked, in late 2010, the parties had essentially switched, with Republicans worrying about the threat at 63% and Democrats at 26%.  The fevered pitch of distrust that the media stoked remained, it just took hold among a different group.  Interestingly, since that time, despite the concerted and constant effort of the news and entertainment media to support President Obama and downplay his scandals, the sense of a threat among Democrats has grown from 26% to 32%, while only 63% to 65% among Republicans.

This is purely my interpretation, of course, but I would argue that some concern was justified after the passage of the Patriot Act, but that the Democrats’ allies in the media worked overtime to convince Americans that President Bush wasn’t just a less desirable choice than other options, but a threat to the country, blending seamlessly with the delirious hysteria surrounding Obama’s election.  Since then, however, it’s become increasingly clear that the government under Obama has actually become a threat.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    As a government has no other business than to “govern”, as the size of the government increases so must the degree of governance. As government grows more remote from the citizens I think a fundamental of American Scripture is being re-discovered “The people grant rights to the government, the government does not grant rights to the people”.I am not sure that Americans realize this precisely, but I think they feel it in things as diverse as the inability to provide more natural gas service to New England, Michelle lunches for their kids at school, and Building Departments being ordered to become “profit centers”. This is before we get to issues such as reading our emails and an inability to get water to Katrina victims.

    • guest

      Justin, you don’t appreciate views that differ from yours , do you?

      • OceanStateCurrent

        I let most of your comments through. Sometimes they’re just too dumb or too repetitive, so I can’t muster the willpower to approve them.

        I love disagreement, but your comments don’t have much content other than provocation.