Party Affiliation Taints Americans’ Views On Privacy, Civil Liberty


A poll released Monday shows more than half of all Americans think it’s acceptable for the government to secretly track their phone calls, if doing so keeps them safe from terrorism.

The poll, done by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, also shows that nearly half believe it’s also acceptable for the National Security Administration (NSA) to indiscriminately spy on citizens’ online activities using secret dragnets like PRISM — so long as it stands a chance of preventing domestic terrorist attacks.

Most Back NSA
Interestingly, the poll also showed that opinions about the President’s role in orchestrating warrantless spying on American citizens vary among Democrats and Republicans to favor whichever party holds power in the executive branch.

Partisan Shifts

In other words, more Democrats think the NSA’s doing the Lord’s work right now, because a Democrat is in the White House. Back in 2006, when the President was a Republican, Democrats hated NSA surveillance. The reverse, of course, holds true for Republicans, more of whom are now outraged by the PRISM scandal than by any NSA revelations or expansion that occurred during the Presidency of George W. Bush.

Youth apathy over the government’s sophisticated surveillance of the very technologies that young people consume en masse is, perhaps, the poll’s most jarring find. While a greater number of young people (though still fewer than half) take a principled stand in support of privacy than do the other age groups surveyed, they aren’t that interested in following specific news about PRISM, the NSA’s secret data mining of Verizon customers or the draconian Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.

“As with most news stories, interest is far higher among older Americans than the young: one-in-three (33%) Americans ages 50-and-older are following news about the government tracking phone records very closely,” the poll states. “Among those ages 18-29, just 12% are following very closely, while 56% say they are not following closely at all.”

Taken together, the poll means that more than half of Americans are fine with Verizon’s setting up of a secret, dedicated fiber-optic line — one that runs from New Jersey straight to a military base at Quantico, Va., and allows the government access “to all communications flowing through the carrier’s operations center,” according to The New York Times.

So long as their party’s in control of the White House, Republicans or Democrats mostly view the President as a trustworthy custodian of such extraConstitutional powers.

And if those Americans are under the age of 30, most of them just don’t care.

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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  • Sharpshooter

    “if doing so keeps them safe from terrorism.” Therein lies the kicker! We have suffered a myriad of Muslim terrorism attacks over the years, with these (policies in place). Obviously they are not doing the job that we are being told they do. Nothing more than a power play by the HMIC. It needs to stop, as it doesn’t work!

  • NObama_Holder_Reid_Pelosi_2012

    “poll released Monday shows more than half of all Americans think it’s
    acceptable for the government to secretly track their phone calls, if
    doing so keeps them safe from terrorism”

    Terrorism? What terrorism, a few weeks ago King Obama announced that the “war on Terror” is over. The Patriot Act and the NDAA and organizations such as DHS and TSA were created and designed due to the “War on Terror”. Since it is over according to Obama, then we no longer need these measures and should be disbanded.

  • Jill Parish

    People need to study the constitution. I think they really don’t understand how what is going on is a violation of that great document.
    Obama wants to shred the Constitution! Remember the “gun control” universal back ground checks supposedly to prevent people with mental disorders from getting a gun – now drinking coffee or other caffeine beverage is now considered a mental disorder. On the news this morning. Does anyone else really watch what is going on? Scary stuff people!

    • Carl-Cathy Wisnesky

      Back in the 1960s & 1970s every middle school & high school student had to take a series of courses called “Civics.” The Constitution, the Bill of Right, Ammendments, the Constitutional Republic form of government, how each brach of government works & what their duties are in Federal, State, & local governments were taught and discussed. These Civics Classes have been totally eliminated from just about every school district in the country. School Boards blamed “budget cuts” for having to eliminate these “non-pertinent” classes. This is probably why most under 30 don’t care. Our country might stand a chance if they would bring these classes back.

  • Doc Sarvis

    Nobody objected to all of this when the Patriot Act was introduced. Hmmm, when was that again?

    • me

      The last Bush started it. Seems Owebunhole has used it to start the gestapo he has turned the Deparment of Homeland Security into. Bush started that one in the Patriot act. If all goes wrong blame bush.

      • Doc Sarvis

        You must be one of those Bush Blamers.

  • manuel

    If this intelligence gathering is making us so safe, wonder how the Boston Marathon bombing happened? Of course, the Gestapo did not care that Jewish shops were burned and they knew it was going to happen. Yep, you can sure trust the federal government. About as much as you can fly to the moon tonight.