We Don’t Know What We Want, But We HATE Government – So We Always Want The Alternative.
We elect presidents who support social issues, then decide they do too much. When we elect the other guy, we decide they do too little… I think we just don’t know what we want.
Take a look at this graphic:
What this shows is that every time we switch from Republican to Democrat (or vice-a-versa) we change our opinions about what the Government’s responsibility should be for taking care of others.
We notice during the Reagan/Bush years a high percentage agreed that the government should be involved in the lives of the unfortunate. When Clinton comes to office, someone who swings more the lower/middle classes, our opinions drop to new lows. When Bush comes into office? We see an increase up to Bush Sr. levels. And now that Obama is sitting at the helm, well we are back to Clinton Era sentiments.
Now I wish I could find Pew results that dated further back, since there very well could be other events that coincided with these sentiment levels not relating to the presidency.
But the idea is interesting and something I would like to see explored. Perhaps like me you are now wondering, but why?
Perhaps it is the media, you always bash the policies of the one in office – simply because he is the only one to bash. News media outlets hammered Bush on everything he did, and we see some residuals heading Obama’s way (although not as much).
But was it because Bush enacted major reform that decreased the amount of assistance the government gave to the poor? Perhaps, he did introduce welfare reform, but his welfare reform increased the amount of support the government gave – albeit while increasing work requirements.
Maybe it has to do with economic conditions. Bush came into office and less than a year before 9/11, and event that resulted in a major stock market decline, and fostered a feeling of brotherhood many of us felt as Americans. But that doesn’t hold so well when we look into Obama’s presidency. Obama came in during a dire financial crisis and in the middle of a deep recession, yet sentiment still changed. In fact, it actually declined throughout the financial crisis.
Or maybe it just has to do with the simple fact that we don’t like government. We don’t like the policies put in place by the individual while they are in office, maybe that changes a bit after, but the news media is always there to criticize. It used to be that the media really had to be fair and balanced, allocating equal time to both sides of a debate. Now that requirement doesn’t exist, and lets face it – politics is much less entertaining when it isn’t “ALERT ALERT,” “BREAKING NEWS,” or “OBAMA NOT CHRISTIAN?”
So my take is, the grass is always greener on the other side. It is not the policies or its effects, or the person that we don’t like – it is government in general. Regardless of what is going on, a considerable portion of the populace decides to edge away from the platform issues of the current guy in favor for the next.
This is an opinion piece, you’ve heard mine – please share yours.