A Pollster Who Gets It Right

A Pollster Gets It Right:

A left, or "center-left," pollster actually listens to what people are saying. It's fairly amazing to realize that they still can hear it, the ones who decide to listen.

[I]n smaller, more probing focus groups, voters show they are fairly cynical about Democratic politicians’ stands. They tune out the politicians’ fine speeches and plans and express sentiments like these: “It’s just words.” “There’s just such a control of government by the wealthy that whatever happens, it’s not working for all the people; it’s working for a few of the people.” “We don’t have a representative government anymore.”

This distrust of government and politicians is unfolding as a full-blown crisis of legitimacy sidelines Democrats and liberalism....

GOVERNMENT operates by the wrong values and rules, for the wrong people and purposes, the Americans I’ve surveyed believe. Government rushes to help the irresponsible and does little for the responsible. Wall Street lobbyists govern, not Main Street voters. Vexingly, this promotes both national and middle-class decline yet cannot be moved by conventional democratic politics. Lost jobs, soaring spending and crippling debt make America ever weaker, unable to meet its basic obligations to educate and protect its citizens. Yet politicians take care of themselves and party interests, while government grows remote and unresponsive, leaving people feeling powerless.
Not quite powerless. We can break it. That is what lies behind the Tea Party's "intransigence" on the debt ceiling: the firm conviction that it is better to destroy this system than to save it.

Read on:
Our research shows that the growth of self-identified conservatives began in the fall of 2008 with the Wall Street bailout, well before Mr. Obama embarked on his recovery and spending program. The public watched the elite and leaders of both parties rush to the rescue. The government saved irresponsible executives who bankrupted their own companies, hurt many people and threatened the welfare of the country. When Mr. Obama championed the bailout of the auto companies and allowed senior executives at bailed-out companies to take bonuses, voters concluded that he was part of the operating elite consensus. If you owned a small business that was in trouble or a home or pension that lost much of its value, you were on your own. As people across the country told me, the average citizen doesn’t “get money for free.” Their conclusion: Government works for the irresponsible, not the responsible.

Everything they witness affirms the public’s developing view of how government really works. They see a nexus of money and power, greased by special interest lobbyists and large campaign donations, that makes these outcomes irresistible.
The list of recommendations for Democrats is refreshing; but it is important that Democrats recognize that the alternative is the end of the system. The public is done with it. Wall Street and Washington are alike, says Ms. Megan McArdle, in being mostly interested in 'what keeps the checks flowing' -- but that option is closed save in the shortest term. The system will reform fundamentally or, if that is too hard, it will burn. The end of the world is not too high a price to break an unjust system, for 'the end of the world,' on these terms, already has happened more than once.
For the White Horse knew England
When there was none to know;
He saw the first oar break or bend,
He saw heaven fall and the world end,
O God, how long ago.

For the end of the world was long ago,
And all we dwell today
As children of some second birth,
Like a strange people left on earth
After a judgment day.

For the end of the world was long ago,
When the ends of the world waxed free,
When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
And the sun drowned in the sea.
If it comes to that, I shall abide it. For the moment, the establishment appears to have given itself one last chance. As they love their lives and fortunes -- I will not speak of their sacred honor -- they had better take care in how they spend it.

The Jacksonian Party has a more hopeful take on the whole business.

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