As configured Federal Government is not popular with majority population
One of the points I continue to try and make when talking about Democrats, Republicans and elections is that which ever side is on the winning side this time or that, it’s mostly because the populace is more disgusted with the other side than enamored with their side.
The trend in the “are we on the right or wrong track as a country” has been in the negative for many years. People aren’t happy in general with the direction of the country or how it is being governed in general, regardless of the party in power.
Gallup points to one of primary “specifics” that relate to that feeling – perceptions about the federal government. And it isn’t pretty reading if you’re a big government fan:
Overall, 72% of responses about the federal government are negative, touching on its inefficiency, size, corruption, and general incompetence, with the most common specific descriptions being "too big," "confused," and "corrupt."
In fact in another recent Gallup poll, the federal government ranked next to last (only above the oil and gas industry which it has constantly demonized) with only 26% of those surveyed seeing it in a positive light.
This is one of the reasons the Tea Parties exist – they are the small minority of activists which vocalize what much of the population feels and is doing its best via the ballot box to correct. What the TP does is give the issue the visibility it needs. A voice to the frustration.
What you see in much of Washington DC is a bunch of government “addicts” (i.e. politicians and bureaucrats) in denial.
I could go on a riff about all of this for thousands of words, but you’ve all read it before. It is like the 800 pound gorilla in the room that neither party really wants to acknowledge. Such acknowledgment would mean a) they’d have to actually listen to the people and that means b) giving up the power they’ve accrued to this point. And in reality, neither party really, honestly wants to do that (oh certainly there are some in each who might be amenable, but not as a whole, no matter what they say).
The relatively good news is you can tell both parties are worried about this, but for different reasons. Democrats realize they’re almost completely on the wrong side of this. They are, at heart, a big government party. They see government as the primary means of accomplishing what they visualize as a utopian egalitarian society overseen by a large (costly and intrusive) government. What is beginning to bother them is realizing how few buy into that vision and want it.
The Republicans, on the other hand, supposedly embody the principles that the frustrated populace mostly embrace. The problem is performance. They haven’t lived up to their principles for decades. That is why you see insurgent candidates running against establishment candidates and doing well. The insurgents may be colorful and for the most part, not the choice of the establishment, but that’s the point. However flawed the insurgent candidates are personally, they represent a message to the establishment. It is about a type of candidate – philosophically. They’re essentially saying “you count seats, we count principles” and they’re further saying “we’d rather chance losing the seat that putting someone in there that doesn’t represent our needs” because doing otherwise simply hasn’t worked out in the past, has it?
That is,to me at least, one of the more fascinating aspects of what is going on out there. And these polls that Gallup and others do indicate this isn’t something which is going to be easily or quickly remedied. However, it should warn both sides that business as usual is not an option. And while that may manifest itself somewhat in this election, it is the 2012 political season that is going the be one of the most interesting in decades to watch.