What if you spent your whole life trying to alert people to something you knew would upset them, but when they finally did hear the message, they shrugged and said, “So what?”
Surely that’s the way some libertarians are going to start feeling as they realize that the NSA snooping scandal isn’t actually a scandal to most people. Many libertarians I know have spent years of their lives dedicated to spreading the word that the government is abusing the rights of the people.
“If people only understand what the government is doing to us, they’ll join us and vote the statists out of office,” many of them believed.
It turns out that the majority of Americans approve of the NSA snooping. That’s right. Not only aren’t they ready to rise up against oppressive Big Brother, they’re rather happy — because they think Big Brother is keeping them safe.
According to a new poll done last week by Pew Research — after the NSA online and phone spying stories came out — 56 percent of Americans think it’s just fine and dandy for the feds to monitor the phone calls of millions of Americans. Almost half of people of people said it’s OK for the federal government to review our emails, too. That’s been consistent over the past decade, because 45 percent approved of it in 2012 and 45 percent approved of it in last week’s poll.
On the broader question of whether security or privacy is more important, the results aren’t even close. The poll shows that 62 percent of Americans say to investigate threats even if the actions infringe on privacy, while just 34 percent say privacy is more important. Those numbers haven’t changed much from previous runs of the poll. Politicians can always make a case that there’s some threat to be investigated. Right?
Let’s be honest. Privacy just don’t matter that much to most people, especially when politicians have convinced them that government agencies can protect them from nameless boogeymen in exchange for giving up rights.
This is yet another reason why it’s folly to expect Americans to suddenly start supporting libertarian-oriented candidates. They don’t want what we want. Most Americans want to be taken care of. They’ve bought into the illusion that they can be safe and “free” — as long as they’re willing to give up more and more of their rights to Big Brother.
Even if I still believed in the morality of a majoritarian system, I wouldn’t bother trying to get people to vote for candidates who favor what I believe in. That’s because the majority don’t want what I want. I’ve accepted that — and I’m more interested in finding freedom in a way that lets them have what they want and lets me have what I want, too.
It’s the only strategy that has a chance of working — because “the people” are never going to be with us.