Lowers The Positive Vision Of Freedoms In The US

Ten years after the September 11 attacks, Americans had a reasonably positive view of their rights and freedoms.

Now in his early twenties, he is not so, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that continues a study begun in 2011, a decade after that turning point in American history.


A decade after the terrorist attacks – which prompted sweeping reform of the intelligence services and the creation of agencies like the Department of Homeland Security – there was a relative consensus among Americans that the government protected many basic rights . However, with these changes, fear began to grow that the government was abusing its authority, although the general population retained a relatively positive view.

That attitude has eroded over the years: far fewer now say that the government protects freedom of expression, the right to vote and the right to bear arms, among others.

For example, according to the survey, 45% think that the federal government protects freedom of expression, 32% say it does not and 23% have no opinion. The proportion of those who thought the government protected this right was 71% in 2011 and 59% in 2015.

Just half of those surveyed now say the government protects freedom of religion, compared to 75% in 2011.

With regard to the right to equality under the law, there are more who believe that the government does not protect it properly, 49% to 27%. In 2011, the proportion was inverse, 48% to 37%.

According to the survey, 54% say that “sometimes it is necessary for the government to sacrifice some rights and freedoms to combat terrorism,” compared to 64% a decade ago. Now 44% say it is never necessary.

Among Democrats, the majority believe that sometimes is necessary, largely coinciding with previous AP-NORC polls. Instead, Republicans are divided: 46% believe it is sometimes necessary and 53% say it never is. In 2011, 69% of Republicans said it was necessary sometimes and in 2015 62% said the same.

The survey inquired about various rights and freedoms, including some of those explicitly detailed in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights and others protected by laws and court rulings.

44% say that the government protects press freedom well, while 26% think it does not do so properly. In 2011 and 2015, six out of 10 believed that the government was adequately protecting that freedom.

43% now believe that the government properly protects the right to vote, while 37% believe that it does not. By comparison, 70% said they were doing well in 2015 and 84% in 2011.


The AP-NORC survey of 1,729 adults was conducted August 12-16 with a sample taken from the AmeriSpeak probabilistic panel, designed to be representative of the US population. The margin of error is plus / minus 3.2 percentage points