Poll measures Americans' view on role of government
A new USA Today/Gallup poll provides an in depth analysis of Americans’ views on the proper size and role of government. The conclusion: “Americans are having a crisis of confidence in their government.” According to the poll only one-quarter of Americans are satisfied with the way government works; six in ten believe the government is simply too big.
Here are some of the things Americans have to say about their government:
Rhonda Bryner, 44, small business owner, Newark, OH: “They’ve [the government] overstepped their authority … For sure they’ve forgotten about the Constitution and what our forefathers set up.”
Trace Oliver, 53, salesman, Eagle, ID: “This spending like a madman was just incredible to me … We’re Americans. We like the great country we live in but, damn it, you’re giving it away.”
Robert Durden, 68, retired school teacher, San Antonio, TX: “It’s expanding too fast, and it’s too large – the health care bill for one … We are quickly moving into becoming a socialist state, and that’s something I definitely do not want to see happen.”
To be sure there are Americans who still want the government to do more. (USA Today and Gallup divide Americans into five categories on the question of government involvement.) According to the poll 22% of want government completely out of their lives, but approximately the same number – 20%, according to the poll – want government to protect “citizens from life’s travails.” Yvette Chappell, 47 of California said the government is not “doing enough for the right people, for the poor.”
But the study does indicate, as William Galston of the Brookings Institution concluded, that the debate over government spending is at the heart of Americans’ distrust in government. According to Galston, “Trust in government is at a very low ebb … and the perception that spending is out of control and is not achieving its intended purposes is the central feature of the political landscape right now. It absolutely trumps everything else.”