Somin on Unity Forged Through Distrust of NSA

In an ABC News article considering why the issue of NSA surveillance unites the right and left ends of the political spectrum, Professor Ilya Somin offers an explanation.

"More extreme political views lead to more distrust of government," says Somin, who has studied the tea party's focus on the Constitution. People at the far ends of the political spectrum are less likely than middle-of-the-road voters to feel government is responsive to them.

On the flip side, Somin says, moderates generally don't follow politics as closely as people at the extremes, so they may be less aware of the scope of the NSA's activities.

What Can Unite Liberals and Tea Partyers? The NSA, ABC News, February 17, 2014. By Connie Cass.

"Whether they are Republicans, Democrats or independents, almost half of Americans say they support the tea party movement or call themselves liberal.

"Compared with their more moderate Republican or Democratic peers, tea partiers and liberals are significantly more likely to oppose the collection of millions of ordinary citizens' telephone and Internet data, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

"By a 2-to-1 margin, these two groups say the government should put protecting citizens' rights and freedoms ahead of protecting them from terrorists.

"Nearly 6 in 10 Republicans support the tea party movement. Nearly 4 in 10 Democrats call themselves liberals. Combined, they are buoying a coalition of conservative and liberal lawmakers pushing to rein in the NSA, while party leaders balk at anything that might weaken the agency's ability to foil terrorists."