The Republican on how people’s faith in government is flagging once again:
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language,” Ronald Reagan said, are: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”
But that was an awfully long time ago. Reagan, of course, was elected president in 1980, vowing to get government off the backs, and out of the daily lives, of the people.
Things turned, and dramatically so, in 1992, when Reagan’s successor as president, George H.W. Bush, was defeated by Democrat Bill Clinton, who seemed poised to reverse much of the Reagan-bush doctrine. But the new president’s activist streak was short-lived. Just a couple of years after his election, Clinton announced, “The era of big government is over.”
The notion of government as a force of good in the lives of the citizenry has long waxed and waned. At present, it’s not having an especially solid moment.
A new poll from Gallup found that fully one out of five Americans feel that government and poor leadership is the No. 1 problem facing the nation today. More than inflation. More than immigration. More than anything else.
And the response, which came in answer to an open-ended question, cuts across party lines, with 18% of Democrats and 24% of Republicans (and independent leaners) putting government at the top of their list of ills.
A straightforward suggestion for both parties: If you’d wish to see people viewing government in a more positive light, it might be wise to start governing better.
Just a thought, but a pretty obvious one.
There are far too many members of Congress, from both parties, who seem to care more about promoting their own brand than they do about working to better the lives of the people. They see themselves as members of their party, their tribe, even, more than as elected officials working for the citizens. Such is not the case with everyone, of course, but it’s true of a great many, and most of them the loudest.
And that’s before one even looks at the failings of the myriad bureaus and agencies. Take public health. Please.
Faith in government is at a low ebb for good reason. And it won’t improve on its own.
One can imagine, given people’s feelings at present, that someone with a Reagan-like attitude about government could really go places in next year’s GOP presidential primaries.
We are living in interesting times.