Blue states are catching up to red ones in realizing that many of the coronavirus protections – like masking, social distancing, and lockdowns – are not as effective as billed.
But the ongoing return to “normal” may not bring back normality for many.
On Friday, Americans for Prosperity and YouGov released a new poll that indicates Americans are wary that their freedoms will be what they were before the pandemic struck two years ago.
Among the findings:
- 43 percent of Americans believe their First Amendment right to protest is now less secure than two years ago, compared to 9 percent who believe that right is stronger. The rest said it remained unchanged.
- Almost as many – 42 percent – said their ability to voice opinions had retracted with the virus restrictions. Just 12 percent felt they could be more outspoken.
- 36 percent felt their religious freedoms were in a more precarious state than two years ago. On the other hand, 10 percent felt those rights had been boosted.
- And 38 percent indicated their ability to access the information that sheds light on how the government makes decisions had been weakened, relative to 14 percent who felt that inroads to that info were stronger.
There was some good news out of the poll, however.
For example, a total of 54 percent said the government should do nothing about online “misinformation,” or that such claims should not be banned and that government officials should speak out more forcefully to explain why such statements were wrong.
On other fronts regarding COVID-19, a clear majority – 59 percent – said government officials did a poor job explaining the necessity of restrictions. Almost that amount – 58 percent – believe the government did a bad job-seeking public input on how to approach such measures. Another 55 percent maintained the government did poorly in re-evaluating those restrictions as the pandemic progressed.
And when asked what institutions they still trust, 61 percent said their faith in Congress was “way” or “slightly” down since the pandemic began, while 49 percent felt the same about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Commenting on the findings, Casey Mattox, Americans for Prosperity’s vice president for legal and judicial strategy, said in a statement, “Civil liberties and COVID response never should have been in conflict. But two years into this pandemic, Americans feel their rights are less secure. And the result is decreased confidence in public officials themselves.”
“Government leaders can learn from this experience. They need public confidence to combat public health challenges, but that trust erodes when Americans perceive them as ignoring reasonable concerns about their basic rights,” Mattox added.
“Protecting these freedoms in law is not enough if those who would exercise them do not believe their right to do so is secure.”