62% Of Americans Are Afraid To Share Their Political Beliefs

A recent poll from the Cato Institute shows that 62% of Americans feel the need to self-censor their politics.

By Brooke Conrad3 min read
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The people most afraid of sharing their political views are Republicans, with 77% responding that they feel the need to self-censor, compared with 59% of independents and 52% of Democrats. 

Similarly, strong liberals are the only group where a majority (58%) feel comfortable sharing their political views, compared with 48% of liberals, 36% of moderates, 23% of conservatives, and 23% of strong conservatives.

Your political views are less socially acceptable the further right you lean in American politics.

It’s a notable, yet unsurprising takeaway: your political views probably are less socially acceptable the further right you lean in American politics. That’s why the term “cancel culture” is used so much on the Right, while people on the Left sometimes deny it even exists

Education Is the Most Hostile Environment for Conservatives

It’s important to note, many of the most egregious instances of “cancel culture” tend to occur within schools and universities. As the Cato poll shows, the educational sphere is among the most hostile environments for conservative views. For Republicans, the more education one has, the more they fear their political views will harm their career. That’s true of 27% of those with a high school education, 26% with some college, 40% with a college degree, and 60% of those with a post-grad degree. 

The numbers are drastically lower for Democrats. Only 23% of Democrats with a high school degree fear career repercussions for their political views, as do 23% of those with some college, 24% of those with a college degree, and 25% of those with a post-grad degree. 

60% of Republicans with a post-grad degree fear their political views will harm their career.

In a recent two-part podcast, New York Times journalists called cancel culture a “broad” and “increasingly meaningless” term, insinuating that conservatives who worry about cancel culture don’t have any substantial complaints. In other words, they refuse to acknowledge the very real anti-conservative bias in many of today’s institutions, especially the universities.

In case anyone missed the latest instances of cancel culture, here are three recent examples.

Professor Kills Himself after Enduring Years of Hatred from Colleagues

Mike Adams was found dead in his home on July 23 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He taught sociology and criminology at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and had consistently received high marks from his colleagues and students, noted David French, who represented him in a court case over Adams’ promotion. Several years ago, when Adams became a Christian and political conservative, his student marks remained high, while his peer evaluations fell, even though none of his colleagues watched him teach, French said.

After 60,000 signatures to remove him from the school, he was forced into an early retirement.

When Adams tried to obtain a promotion in 2006, his colleagues and the school chancellor unleashed an onslaught of attacks inhibiting his promotion. Fortunately, he won that case, but his colleagues later renewed their attacks, in tandem with more than 60,000 online petition signatures to remove him from the school. He was forced into what would have been an early retirement the first week of August.

Admittedly, many of Adams’ tweets and writings are jarring. In May, he criticized North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s coronavirus restrictions over Twitter by calling North Carolina a “slave state” and declaring, “Massa Cooper, let my people go!” Such language certainly could be labeled “offensive” — perhaps even “wrong.” But to say that this speech is “racist” would certainly be a stretch, and the statement does fit within the bounds of free speech.

Journalist Leaves New York Times, Cites Bullying

Journalist Bari Weiss leveled several accusations against the New York Times after resigning from her position there. She had been hired specifically to offer a more conservative perspective after Trump’s surprising 2016 election. (The guy who hired Weiss, James Bennet, was also recently fired for publishing an op-ed from U.S. Senator Tom Cotton on why the U.S. should deploy the military to quell protests.) As it turns out, the paper didn’t really want a right-leaning perspective after all. 

As it turns out, the paper didn’t really want a right-leaning perspective after all. 

Weiss says she was called a “Nazi” and a “racist.” She noted that her work and character were “openly demeaned on companywide Slack channels,” and fellow employees called her a “liar and a bigot” on Twitter. In her open resignation letter, she wrote, “There are terms for all of this: unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment and constructive discharge. I’m no legal expert. But I know that this is wrong." 

Professor Threatens Teachers Who Defend Police

A professor at Winthrop University recently wrote on social media that she would call out “White K-12” public school teachers who exhibit “pro-police, anti-Black” rhetoric. “I hope those are posts you are willing to stand by when district personnel get screenshots of your ignorance,” she wrote.

She deleted her Facebook post once Young America’s Foundation reached out to her employer for comment.

Closing Thoughts

A word of caution to those decrying cancel culture — according to the Cato poll, many of those who are concerned about cancel culture would still be happy to see their opponents cancelled. The poll shows 33% of those who are worried about their political views affecting their job would also support firing individuals who donate to either the Biden or Trump campaigns, compared with 24% of those who aren’t worried about losing their jobs.

It’s hypocritical to call out cancel culture while at the same time wishing the same fate on your ideological opponents. We should all stand by the right to free speech, regardless of circumstance or which political ideas hold the upper hand.