The most frightening part of this story is that it’s not a dog-bites-man announcement.  CNN, in its latest polling, reports that 56% of respondents believe that the federal government poses a threat to individual liberty (via Mary Katharine Ham):

A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government’s become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.

Well … yeah.  In fact, 56% seems pretty low to me.  The entire reason that the founders wrote the Constitution was to keep a powerful federal government from encroaching on the rights of the states and the individual citizens of the US.  If that wasn’t explicitly obvious from the actual text of the document, then the prolific discourse left by the founders in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere makes that point over and over again.

This shouldn’t be a surprise; it should be basic civics.

However, that 56% almost certainly represents an increase in the awareness of the basic reason for the Constitution’s limitation of federal power, and we can thank Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid for underscoring its need.  The health-care initiative pushed by the Democrats would put the government into our most personal and private choices, greatly increasing the power of Washington and decreasing the liberty of Americans.  After more than seven decades of increasingly statist policy, Americans have belatedly awoken to a crisis in liberty and a fiscal meltdown of the welfare state.  Our massive federal expansion now has to be funded by debt bought by foreign countries — nations like China, who hardly have either liberty or our best interests in mind.

A massive federal government and the crushing debt it produces is exactly what the founders wanted to avoid.  Thankfully, 56% of Americans have awoken to the danger of Leviathan.  It’s hard to figure out what it will take to get the other 44% to comprehend it, short of total collapse.