Leading up to the Fourth of July, Gallup reports that Americans are less satisfied with their freedom to choose what they do with their lives than they were 7 years ago. In 2006, 91 percent of Americans were satisfied with their freedom. That number dropped 12 percentage points to 79 percent in 2013.
How does the U.S. measure up?
The U.S. ranks thirty-sixth among all 120 participating countries. With the significant decline in public opinion between 2006 and 2013, America no longer ranks in the top quartile worldwide for countries with the highest levels of satisfaction with freedom.
Additionally, only 10 countries had declines as large or larger than the U.S. As a country that prides itself in the principles of freedom, we can do better.
In the last 7 years, we’ve been exposed to the extent of mass surveillance on American citizens -- both corporate and governmental. We have seen how the electoral process has been hijacked by the two major parties, disenfranchising nonpartisan voters from participating in our democracy. We have witnessed the shrinking of the middle class, with 20 percent of Americans now living in poverty.
Gallup speculates that the decline in freedom is linked to our perception of corruption in the national government:
"Americans not only feel that the U.S. government is performing poorly, as demonstrated by record-low congressional approval ratings, but they also report that the U.S. government itself as one of the biggest problem facing the country today."
Our confidence in all three branches of government has reached record lows, an indication that we do not trust the government to protect our freedoms.
Take a moment this July 4 to reflect on what you are celebrating. Fourth of July is a celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and our freedom from Great Britain’s rule. It is a celebration of the founding of our country, the land of the free. It is a celebration of the progress we have made as a representative democracy.
This Fourth of July, are you satisfied with your freedom?