What Do The American People Believe About Government?

As the November elections draw near, a number of polling organizations have been asking the American people fundamental questions about what they believe about politics and what they believe about government.  So what have these polls shown?  Well, it is undeniable that distrust and dissatisfaction with the government is growing.  The American people are getting fed up with what is going on in Washington.  It is also clear that the number of Americans that are in favor of big government is decreasing.  But it is actually more complicated than that.  It appears that the American people want the government to get off their backs, but they also want the government to do more and to provide more services.  The American people apparently want fewer laws but more protections.  The American people seem to want lower taxes but also more government spending to stimulate the economy.  In other words, the American people want to have their cake and eat it too. 


The following statistics are taken from two recent surveys.  One is a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll and the other is a new study by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University.  These surveys reveal that the American people are very conflicted regarding what they believe about government.

The following are results from the two surveys that seem to indicate that the American people want a smaller government that does less….

*59 percent of Americans believe that the United States is seriously on the wrong track.  This was up 12 percent from a similar poll taken in the summer of 2000.

*Only one out of every four Americans is satisfied with the way the nation is being governed.

*Approximately six out of every 10 Americans say that the federal government has too much power.

*58 percent of Americans believe that the federal government is doing too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses.

*About half of all Americans believe that there is too much government regulation of business.

*Approximately three out of every four Americans believe that business can do things more efficiently than the government can.

*About six out of every 10 Americans disagree with the idea that the federal government generally does things in a way that is fairer than the way that business would do things.

*Almost half of all Americans agree with the following statement: “The federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedom of ordinary citizens.”

*Over 40 percent of those asked gave the federal government a grade of either a D or an F.

The following are results from the two surveys that seem to indicate that the American people want a bigger government that does more….

*Almost two-thirds of all Americans believe that the federal government should be doing more to fight poverty.

*Close to 60 percent of Americans say that they want their members of Congress to battle for more government spending in their districts in order to spark job creation.

*Close to 60 percent of Americans say that it is the job of the federal government to ensure that all Americans have adequate health care.

*55 percent of those responding said that the U.S. government is not paying enough attention to the biggest issues.

*About 50 percent of Americans say that they would prefer more government spending to try to stimulate the overall U.S. economy.

*36 percent of Americans believe that the federal government should do even more than it is doing to solve the country’s problems.

So there you have it.

What Americans believe about government is a mess of contradictions.

Americans want a smaller government that takes fewer taxes from them and that makes fewer demands on them.

At the same time, Americans want a government that does more, protects them better and even spends more money if necessary to stimulate the economy.

But what should we expect?

The truth is that America is deeply divided.

About half of the country wants to continue the march towards big government and European-style socialism, while the other half wants to return to the limited government that was originally set forth in the U.S. Constitution.

America is becoming more liberal and more conservative at the same time.  We have developed deep ideological divisions which threaten to tear this nation in two if we are not careful.

But the truth is that both major political parties have aggressively expanded the size of government in recent decades.  The administration of George W. Bush did more to expand the size of the federal government than any other previous administration.  Now Barack Obama and his socialist friends are doing their best to outdo Bush.

It seems like there is always an excuse for the government to get bigger and to grab more power. 

“We’ve got to grab more power because of national security.”

“We’ve got to grab more power because of the economic crisis.”

“We’ve got to grab more power to fix the health care system.”

Both parties have been aggressively spending our money for decades.  Both parties are responsible for piling up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.  Both parties are responsible for leading us down a path that is far from what our Founding Fathers intended.

So will the United States ever return to a limited government as we were originally intended to have under the U.S. Constitution?

That is for the American people to decide.