A disturbing trend appears to be developing in American attitudes toward the limits on the federal government. While some have always favored having a stronger state, these individuals typically appeared on the left. But the result of a recent Pew Research study revealed that statist thinking could be increasing among those who would likely identify as conservatives.
On the right, an abundance of different viewpoints exists. Everything from traditional conservatism to libertarianism and even anarchy are touted by various individuals. But among these differing ideas is a commonality: The government should never grow to the point that it stifles liberty. If this recent study is any indication, a change in thought might be on the horizon.
Poll Results Reveal Disturbing Findings
The Pew Research Center conducted a study measuring American views on the level of power a president should possess. The poll showed that most Americans still believe it would be “too risky” to grant too much power to the presidency. But the percentage of participants who have this position has decreased since 2018.
This year, 66% of Americans agreed that “it would be too risky to give U.S. presidents more power to deal directly with many of the country’s problems.” Almost 30%, however, believed that “problems could be dealt with more effectively if U.S. presidents didn’t have to worry so much about Congress or the courts.”
These results represented a 10% decrease from March 2018, when 76% of participants stated that giving the president too much power would present an unacceptable risk. But the most drastic drop came among Republicans. In 2018, 70% of conservatives agreed that giving the president too much power is not desirable. This year, only 51% of Republicans agree with that statement. Democratic participants’ views on the matter have remained stagnant from last year at 82%.
Should Americans be concerned by these numbers? At this point, it’s not easy to tell. The notion that people who typically claim to value liberty and a limited government would support endowing the executive branch with even more powers is not a pleasant thought. The founders sought to avoid allowing any one branch of the government to enjoy too much power. In the case of the presidency, they were concerned that the populace would grow to see this individual as a de facto king with the ability to rule by decree.
As the Democratic Party moves farther to the left, one might be concerned that the Republicans will follow suit. The results of the study might indicate that this shift is currently happening. The fact that many on the right have supported government involvement in the private sector when it comes to tech companies could lend credibility to this idea.
But it’s also worth pointing out that the decrease among Republicans could easily be because a Republican currently occupies the Oval Office. If Clinton had won the election, it is likely that this metric would not have experienced a drop at all.
Either way, it is clear that progressivism and conservatism are locked in a heated conflict in the lead up to the 2020 election. In light of this, conservatives might be more willing to allow their president to wield more power if it means it will beat back the progressive agenda. But either way, the evolving attitudes on the role of the state should continue to be watched as it could decide the fate of American society.