Stop the presses! There’s a brand-spanking-new poll out this week that has revelatory insights into how Americans view the federal government! Oh, wait. No. This is just another poll that shows how little faith Americans have in their government.
The new poll, conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, interviewed respondents online and asked a series of questions relating to satisfaction and future outlook on the role of government in the United States. And, well, the federal government isn’t doing so hot.
AP found that 70% of Americans are not confident in the U.S. government’s ability to “make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.” That’s not just a majority. That’s overwhelming. Rarely are Americans united on an issue like they are on the ineptitude of the federal government.
Which means most Americans think 2014 is looking pretty bleak. If over two-thirds lack confidence that the government can get its act together, then a good chunk probably doesn't expect good things in 2014. Sure enough, the AP poll confirms this:
Over 60% of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. That’s some nation-wide pessimism. But, as AP points out, this isn’t exactly a new development: “The percentage of Americans saying the nation is heading in the right direction hasn’t topped 50 in about a decade.”
So what’s to blame? Well, how about we take a look at the system of government in the U.S. How do Americans feel about good old democracy? Oh, not great?
The vast majority of Americans think at least a few changes need to be made to democracy in this country. 41% think it “needs a lot of changes.” Only 5% think it’s fine the way it is.
OK then. Democracy needs some work. How would Americans fix it? What kind of government do they want?
Ah, I see. Half of Americans believe “the less government the better.” Good, let’s scale back the federal government. Wait, 57% of Americans also believe “we need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems.” So, if I’m getting this right, Americans think less government is better, but they also want a strong federal government to take care of the economy. Right.
To recap: Americans aren’t confident in the federal government’s ability to do its job and they think 2014 is going to be pretty rough. They want to change the structure of democracy in the U.S., but don’t really know how to do that.
I'm sure that bodes well for the 2014 midterm elections and the rest of Obama's second term. We'll see every politician promising to "restore faith in Washington" but none with any ideas on how to actually do that. Don't put all the blame on them, though. It seems Americans don't really know what they want.
Ah, America: never satisfied, never a clue how to fix itself. Never change, America.