Are you ready for this? So, a recent RealClearPolitics poll indicates that over 30% of Democratic voters believe that Americans have "too much freedom."
It's quite surprising: a significant portion of the Democratic Party, often championed as the party of "tolerance" and "inclusion", seems to be in favor of limiting free speech or curbing First Amendment rights for those with differing views.
Surprised? I'm not. Let's dive deeper:
“Overall, 9 in 10 voters in the U.S. think First Amendment protections for freedom of speech is a good thing, while only 9% think it is a bad thing,” said pollster Spencer Kimball, who directed the RCP survey. “This is agreed upon across the demographics, like party affiliation, age, and race.”
For those who oppose censorship and put a premium on the free flow of ideas, that’s the good news. But there is bad news, too. Inevitably in our nation’s current hyper-partisan political environment, when one bores down on this subject, deeply divergent perspectives emerge — partisan differences.
Painting with a broad brush, Democrats grant significantly more deference to government than do Republicans when it comes to regulating free speech. This wasn’t the only fault line revealed by the RCP survey.
Some of what is dividing these differences is generational, as Millennials and Gen-Z have come of age in a digital age environment in which reasonable expectations of privacy seem a relic of the past.
“Those under 30 are most open to censorship by the government,” Kimball noted, adding that 42% of this cohort deem it “more important” to them that the government protect national security than guard the right to free expression. Among those over 65 years old, the corresponding percentage was 26%.
A core belief among many Democrats is the value of a more active government role. This stems from their identification with governmental responsibilities. Their overarching objective appears to be fostering a society where people rely on the government – particularly the Democratic Party – for support throughout their lives, while also offering protection against perceived threats from the Republican Party.
Now, let's delve into the specific results of the poll:
Republican voters (74%) and independents (61%) believe speech should be legal “under any circumstances, while Democrats are almost evenly divided. A bare majority of Democrats (53%) say speech should be legal under any circumstances, while 47% say it should be legal “only under certain circumstances.”
Nearly one-third of Democratic voters (34%) say Americans have “too much freedom.” This compared to 14.6% of Republicans. Republicans were most likely to say Americans have too little freedom (46%), while only 22% of Democrats feel that way. Independents were in the middle in both categories.
Although majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree the news media should be able to report stories they believe are in the national interest, this consensus shifts when it comes to social media censorship. A majority of Democrats (52%) approve of the government censoring social media content under the rubric of protecting national security. Among Republicans and independents, this percentage is only one-third.
Poll respondents were read this statement: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Only 31% of Democratic voters “strongly agreed” with that sentiment, compared to 51% of Republicans.
Fully three-fourths of Democrats believe government has a responsibility to limit “hateful” social media posts, while Republicans are more split, with 50% believing the government has a responsibility to restrict hateful posts. (Independents, once again, are in the middle.)
Democrats are significantly more likely than Republicans to favor stifling the free speech rights of political extremists. Also, Republicans don’t vary by the group: Only about half of GOP voters favor censorship — whether asked about the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis, or the Communist Party.
Put differently, there's a noticeable contradiction within the American Democratic Party. They frequently advocate for inclusion and tolerance, yet sometimes fall short in extending these values to those they disagree with.
The most ironic aspect of the Democratic mindset is their apparent lack of self-awareness and difficulty in recognizing their own inconsistencies. Unbeknownst to them, their actions often provide a source of amusement for those who approach issues with a more objective lens.
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