An article from our sister site Townhall highlighted a past survey from the Cato Institute, which found that nearly two-thirds of Americans are self-censoring their political views out of fear others will be offended by them.
The survey from the libertarian think tank found that these fears cross partisan lines. However, while just over half of Democrats (52 percent) say they self-censor their political views, a staggering supermajority of Republicans (77 percent) say they have political opinions they are afraid to share. Even independents are scared to share their political views, with 59 percent saying they self-censor.
But here’s where things are really interesting. Those who consider themselves strong liberals are the only people who feel they can freely express themselves. “Nearly 6 in 10 [58%] of staunch liberals feel they can say what they believe,” writes Emily Ekins of the Cato Institute. “This demonstrates that political expression is an issue that divides the Democratic coalition between centrist Democrats and their left flank.”
There’s something incredibly un-American about this. When a majority of Americans feel they have to censor their political views, we have a problem. It’s an American ideal that people can say and believe what they want in this country. We’re supposed to be the beacon of freedom for the world. And while political views haven’t been criminalized yet (though I’m sure the left is working on that), our ability to tolerate opposing views has diminished severely, particularly lately because of cancel culture.
Digging deep into the poll, one thing becomes abundantly clear: The problem is mainly on the left. They feel more confident being open in their views and are less tolerant of those who disagree with them.
In America, we should be better than this.
Of course, I’m not going to lie. I self-censor my political views as well. Okay, you probably have some questions. While I’m obviously quite open about my politics here at PJ Media, on social media (mainly Facebook), I’ve pretty much stopped posting anything political on my personal timeline. I was an open book about politics on Facebook for a long time and I have paid a social price for that. Over the years, I’ve discovered people I’ve known for years and with whom I’d been friends on Facebook suddenly no longer showing up on my timeline because they had unfriended me. Even family members have unfriended me over the years. More recently, a friend request sent to an old college friend was quite clearly rebuffed. While my timeline is devoid of politics, the truth of my leanings takes mere seconds to determine. I’m labeled a conservative Republican in my profile and I don’t hide my position as a columnist at PJ Media either.
So, while I’m not sharing political posts on my timeline, my politics aren’t a secret, and that’s enough for me to be rejected by someone I was friendly with in college.
I’ve never unfriended someone over politics, but it’s happened enough to me that it’s become impossible not to be conscious of how certain people choose to self-segregate based on politics, limiting their social circles to those who think as they do. We can’t discuss politics anymore because these politically homogenous social clusters distort people’s perceptions and make them incapable of tolerating anything different because they’ve convinced themselves that opposing views are evil and bigoted. This is why we’ve got to stop cancel culture and start talking to each other. If we can’t, we’re doomed.