Here’s Why Americans Feel Less Free

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

I hate to be a patriotic downer on the Fourth, but Gallup has another poll to add to those already expressing Americans’ discontent with their nation — and the backlog of bad blood is worth a gander as well. Independence day seven years ago was a little brighter, a little more genuine, and a little more hopeful if Tuesday’s poll is to be believed.

While 2006 showed 91 percent of responders saying they felt satisfied with the freedom in the U.S. to choose what to do with their life, 2013 showed a major 12 point fall to 79 percent, and increase from 9 percent dissatisfied to 21 percent. Compared with twelve other nations, this puts America at the bottom of the list, under New Zealand, 94 percent satisfied, Australia at 93, Cambodia, Sweden, UAE, Australia, Netherlands, Uzbekistan, Canada, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark, the least of which still held a 91 percent satisfaction rate. The same poll offers a suggested answer for why Americans might feel increasingly negatively about their personal freedoms — namely corruption.

Since 2006 perception of widespread corruption in the U.S. government has risen from 59 percent to 79 percent in 2013, a perception likely driven in part by the Edward Snowden NSA documents, the IRS, and Benghazi. The fact that House Speaker John Boehner is suing President Barack Obama for overstepping presidential boundaries likely won’t have helped this year — and while the poll shows numbers up through 2013, other polls conducted this year have reiterated and expanded the general frustrated and disappointed sentiment of many Americans.

Earlier this year a CNN/ORC International poll showed 59 percent of Americans saying they did not believe the American dream was possible anymore, while 40 percent said it was. A majority also polled as believing that their children won’t have a brighter future; 63 percent said kids won’t be better off than their parents. This goes hand in hand with a Washington Post/Miller Center survey that showed 54 percent saying they were doing better than their parents had done, but a mere 39 percent posited that their children would see their quality of life improve from here out.