Americans’ Faith In Their Real Freedoms Declines, Even As Frustration Grows


Americans’ faith in the power of their own liberty is eroding, while their frustration continues to mount over a perceived reduction in their freedom to live life as they choose in the United States.

That’s the takeaway from a Gallup poll released Tuesday, which finds that 79 percent of Americans say they’re “satisfied with the freedom to choose what they do with their lives” – a figure down 12 percent from a high of 91 percent in 2006, the first year the research group asked that question.

The survey reflects how people answered one simple question: “In this country, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life?” Over the course of the past eight years, the size of the “satisfied” camp has steadily decreased, while the size of the “dissatisfied” segment has inched upward.

As confidence in freedom has steadily declined since 2006, it has been accompanied by an increase in Americans’ dissatisfaction with the freedoms they feel they do have. “In that same period,” notes Gallup, “the percentage of Americans dissatisfied with the freedom to choose what they do with their lives more than doubled” from 9 percent in 2006 to 21 percent in 2013.

Not only is the perception of free choice slipping in America; it’s evidently unique to our Nation. “Gallup asks people in more than 120 countries each year whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with the freedom to choose what they do with their lives,” the poll synopsis states. “In 2006, the U.S. ranked among the highest in the world for people reporting satisfaction with their level of freedom. After seven years and a 12-point decline, the U.S. no longer makes the top quartile worldwide.”

In a list that saw New Zealand as the top finisher (94 percent of residents reported being “satisfied” with their freedoms), the U.S. ended up at no. 36. Cambodia, Uzbekistan and the United Arab Emirates all finished higher. It joins Egypt, Venezuela, Cyprus, Pakistan (and ties with Spain) among countries that saw a double-digit fall, since 2006, in residents’ satisfaction with the freedoms they enjoy.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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