Perhaps no other idea unifies the American people more than freedom. Ninety-three percent (93%) of voters agree with a sentiment sometimes defined as the American Creed: Every American should have the right to live their own life as they see fit, so long as they respect the rights of others to do the same.
However, while cherishing the ideal, there are doubts about how well we live out that creed. Only 49% believe that most Americans respect the right of other people to live their own life as they see fit.
Even more skepticism is found about the federal government. Just 32% believe that it respects the right of every American to live their own life as they see fit. That’s especially stunning because our nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, states that the very purpose of government is to protect our unalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted for ScottRasmussen.com on August 20-21, 2018 by HarrisX, a leading research firm specializing in online surveys (see Methodology). The statistical margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. It is presented to enhance the public dialogue through data-driven analysis that explores the underlying currents of public opinion (read About Us).
Interestingly, younger voters are a bit more skeptical about the willingness of their fellow citizens to allow others to live as they see fit. Among those under 50, 45% believe this is true. Among older voters, 53% believe their fellow citizens respect the rights of others.
However, when it comes to the federal government, older voters are more skeptical. Just 27% of voters over 50 believe the federal government respects the rights of every American to be free. Thirty-six percent (36%) of younger voters think the federal government is okay on this point (see crosstabs).
Related data on the role of the federal government in society showed that 71% recognize that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have had a bigger impact on the world than all eight U.S. presidents who have served since the founding of Apple and Microsoft.
The reality that culture and technology lead the nation forward while politics and politicians lag behind is a central theme in my most recent book: The Sun is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed But America Will Not. Among other factors, the book notes that even in the 21st century, our nation retains a deep cultural commitment to the nation’s founding ideals of freedom, equality, and self-governance. It is this commitment that makes me optimistic about our nation despite the failures of our political system.
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Recent releases have found that 64% believe that freedom is more important than democracy. Among the freedoms confirmed in the Bill of Rights, voters rate the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and freedom of religion as the most important. A separate column explained how the freedom to walk away holds politicians accountable.
Other recent releases have explored underlying attitudes about Socialism, Universal Basic Income, and Free Markets. Also, 10 years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a global financial crisis, 58% of voters still want to break up the nation’s biggest banks.
Neither Scott Rasmussen nor ScottRasmussen.com has any relationship with Rasmussen Reports® (see About Us).