Opinion can be a tricky thing. Especially if you are the one trying to alter it. The topic of opinion gets exponentially more complicated when you attempt to define it in a sense of the general public. Public opinion is something that can be difficult, even controversial to define. This is because there will always be outliers, on any issue, and everyone is not always going to agree. It is also a dynamic and ever-changing entity. Societal norms and values change over time. This causes public opinion to shift all over the place as time progresses.
A recent living example of the living, changing nature of public opinion can be seen in the current perception of gay marriage. The Atlantic goes into detail on the exponential shift that has occurred in the public’s perception of gay marriage in recent years. It is a strange phenomenon that happens in our society, and it is one that is reoccurring.
People protested integrating whites and blacks back in the 1960’s just as people protested gay marriage in the last 10 years. Now we look back at these protests and think about how ridiculous they were. “What were they thinking?” This is a question that comes to mind when we are presented with these historical controversies.
PBS.org references that the Declaration of Independence uses language that states that public is required to be taken into account. Specifically that our government functions expressly with “the consent of the governed.” So, according to this premise, laws must evolve with public opinion.
There are also issues that can arise when trying to interpret public opinion. One way this is often done is though various public opinion polls. However, these can present many different types of bias that can skew the results one way or another, as illustrated by the following video: