A startling number of Gen Z Americans are in favor of the government placing video cameras in every private home with the goal of preventing various crimes and abuse. It is possible that few if any have read George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984.
In a poll of 2,000 U.S. residents by the Cato Institute, respondents were asked if they supported “the government installing surveillance cameras in every household to reduce domestic violence, abuse, and other illegal activity.”
The numbers are telling.
NEW CATO SURVEY: Nearly a third of Gen Z support the government installing surveillance cameras in every household to prevent crime and abuse.
Opposition to Orwelian-government monitoring has been assumed to be both overwhelming and obvious. But is it?
— Emily Ekins (@emilyekins) June 5, 2023
Of the total questioned, only a small 14% agreed with such an authoritarian notion. The majority of respondents, 75%, opposed the notion with another 10% saying they were not sure.
A full 80% of those from ages 30 to 44 either opposed the idea or were not certain.
But then there’s Gen Z. This age group consists of those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s and apparently has not been properly taught the immense dangers of oppressive governments.
A solid 29% came out in favor of intrusive government surveillance, nearly a third of that segment of the population.
Along racial and ethnic lines, the highest support for pervasive spying by federal authorities came from Blacks with 33%. This was followed by 25% of Hispanics. Whites support such intrusiveness the least, followed by Asians.
But it’s the Gen Z figure that should trouble civil libertarians the most.
A large segment of this age group apparently values security and safety over privacy and freedom, and would willingly trade personal liberties to have someone watch over them.
As the pollsters noted, it is difficult to determine exactly how much this wide divergence of opinion is attributable to an overall trend or just a sign of the age effect.
Americans over a certain age, which the Cato Institute designated as 45, have a strong memory and awareness of the dangers of tyrannical government power. They well remember the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union and the abuses that came with totalitarianism.
The same cannot be said for younger Americans. Theirs are generations that want “safe spaces” and protections from hurtful words, and if it takes oppressive power in Washington to rid their existence of these “dangers,” so be it.