Americans disapprove of their government on almost every level. President Trump’s approval rating has been underwater since the moment he took office. Before that, Obama was underwater politically for nearly the entirety of his Presidency. Likewise, Congress has had an approval rating of less than 30 percent for more than a dozen years. Confidence in the Supreme Court has reached an all time low. It is easy for the average citizen to look at government and see that it is an institution that clearly is not working.
What most fail to realize is they, the voter, are the reason why. In this sense, Americans are getting the government they deserve; a government that illogically hurdles from one crisis to another with little sense and almost no progress.
Americans clearly are not voting based on what they actually believe, opting to focus more on a candidate’s narrative, personality or gaffes. One only needs to look at opinion polling to come to this conclusion. 92 percent of Americans support universal background checks for gun purchases. 60 percent support reforms to the Patriot Act that restrict the government’s ability to monitor American citizens. 60 percent support a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally. 76 percent support raising the minimum wage to over ten dollars. 60 percent of Americans supported the lifting of the Cuban embargo, and 59 percent supported the Iranian nuclear deal.
Despite these views, Americans overwhelmingly elected a Congress that is opposed to every single one of the aforementioned policies until 2018. One would think that electing the obstentsably liberal party would rectify the gaping chasm that lies between public belief in public policy. Sadly, this has not proven to be the case. In fact, Congress has directly rebuked voters. The Democratic House and Republican Senate has continually reauthorized the Patriot Act, voted for increased Defense spending and made no attempts to reign in most of the President’s authority. The Republican Senate has voted down a raise in the minimum wage, voted no on even debating immigration reform, and voted universal gun background checks. How does the average voter react to this continual snubbing of their beliefs? Re-electing over 95 percent of incumbent politicians running for reelection every two years.
Americans overwhelmingly supported ending the war in Iraq, and wanted to do it faster than the Obama administration, and as far back as 2010 only around 20 percent of the public thought the War in Afghanistan was worth fighting. When the US withdrew from Iraq, we left no residual forces. Americans supported it. Just a year later, 63 percent of Americans disapproved of the decision. The US electorate doesn’t even get basic matters of fact right. One such example is the belief Republicans are trustworthy on issues of debt and deficits. In reality, every Republican President has increased the deficit since the 1970s while every Democrat has reduced it during the same time frame. Voters notoriously approved of every major measure in the Affordable Care Act while disapproving of the entire bill for most of the time Obama was in office. The truth is recent history is filled with examples of voters expressing paradoxical views on major policy issues.
Voters want to decrease the debt and deficit. Meanwhile, surveys show the electorate supports far more government services and lower taxes-something that would explode the debt and deficit they also say they want to reduce. This is nothing short of political bipolarism, but it is never openly talked about by politicians who tell voters everything is going to be alright. Voters then reward the politicians for telling them what they want to hear. The last President to address something wrong with the American character was Jimmy Carter, and he lived to regret it come election time.
It is time to tell the voters what they don’t want to hear. We are getting the government we deserve by rewarding gridlock and voting against our own self interest. If we continue to do it, the diminished country our children inherit will not be on the shoulders of politicians-it will be on us. In a Democratic Republic, we elect officials to represent our political beliefs since having everyone in the country vote on every issue would be too time consuming. There is no doubt that large swaths of Americans clearly do not understand that simple fact, are ignorant to it, or do not care.