Surprising absolutely no one, a new Rasmussen report released today reveals that the majority of Americans believe that the Department of Justice is motivated by a political agenda, as opposed to upholding justice:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of the Justice Department, while 53% view it unfavorably. This includes only nine percent (9%) with a Very Favorable view and 26% with a Very Unfavorable one. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Just 35% think the Justice Department is more concerned with making sure justice is done when it decides to investigate a local crime independent of local police. But 54% think instead that the Justice Department is more concerned with politics when it makes those decisions. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

This distrust of the feds carries over into views of a planned new federal database to track “misinformation” and hate speech on the social media site Twitter. Thirty-five percent (35%) believe the federal government will use the database to go after real criminals, but 53% believe it will be used to monitor law-abiding citizens instead. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent intervention in Ferguson, Missouri has shone a light on problems with the way the DoJ approaches its duty. Problems within the DoJ—especially those involving racial issues— are nothing new, but the increased news coverage on the scandals surrounding the DoJ appears to be doing its job.

For example, the Rasmussen poll reflects the general sentiment exhibited by conservative pundits commenting on the suggestion that Obama appoint a “Police Czar”. Only 20% of voters approve of federal control over local police departments, and the lack of evidence that a federal civil rights crime occurred on the night Michael Brown died has people like Andrew McCarthy on the alert:

Based on what is known about the unblemished six-year record of Officer Darren Wilson and the facts surrounding his shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, there is no reason to suspect racism, much less that any thought was given to Mr. Brown’s federal rights during the sudden, violent exchange. There is no way this is a civil-rights case . . . unless you are a backward-thinking dolt who spots racism based on nothing more than the fact that the police officer is white and the victim is black.

It is a violation of federal law to subject a person to criminal investigation solely on the basis of his race. To prevent such government abuse, to root out institutional racism, is the objective of the civil-rights laws, which hold that a person may not be deprived of his rights and privileges — including due process and equal protection under the law — based on his race.

Furthermore, stories highlighting Holder’s lack of accountability regarding IRS targeting of conservative groups, and his refusal to take the lead in the Benghazi investigation, have conservatives on edge and (if Rasmussen’s polling numbers are accurate) Americans in general asking questions.

Interestingly enough, a similar poll released by Gallup soon after the death of Michael Brown showed that only 27% of national adults have “a great deal” of confidence in the criminal justice system; blacks, however, “have significantly lower levels of confidence in the police as an institution, and lower assessments of the honesty and ethics of police officers specifically.”

In May of 2013, Gallup released a poll detailing the viewpoints of Americans on the level of power wielded by the federal government in general, which showed that “[w]hile a majority of Americans believe the federal government has too much power, and 46% say the federal government poses an immediate threat to ordinary citizens, these views have not changed significantly over the last year or two.”

The relative stability of these measures suggests that the current news focused on allegations of misuse of government power has not had an immediate impact on the public’s views of the federal government, at least as measured by these two questions. At the same time, an update on Americans’ views of the IRS shows significantly more negative attitudes now than in 2009, underscoring the idea that the current scandals’ impact may be more localized to specific agencies rather than generalized to the entire federal government.

In 2014 we’re seeing a population that generally feels that the government holds too much power, and doesn’t necessarily trust the local police—and they still don’t want Holder’s DoJ to interfere. This is big.

The concepts of “Big Government” and “federal overreach” tend to strike an oblique note with those who don’t normally involve themselves in local or national politics, so the fact that this latest poll reflects severe mistrust in a federal agency that is literally defined by a purported commitment to justice is not insignificant. The scandals surrounding General Holder and the Obama Administration are increasingly striking a more personal note with the American people: they want control over their bodies, their lives, and their communities, and they’re finally starting to push back against the destructive agenda that has defined policy in America for nearly six years.


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