No man's life, liberty, or property, are safe while the legislature is in session. – Mark Twain (1866)
Gallup is reporting that several of its long-term trend lines on attitude to government in the US are at historic lows. The satisfaction level with how the nation is being governed, is the lowest recorded at 19%, as opposed to 81% dissatisfaction, or minus 62%. The previous lowest was in 1974 at the height of the Watergate aftermath when Nixon resigned, but that was only 26% - 66%, or minus 40%. At the nadir of the Bush years, it was only minus 42%.
A number of key findings are at lows never plumbed before. 69% have little or no confidence in the government, 53% have little or no confidence in those who seek or hold elected office, and Americans believe, on average, that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every tax dollar. Incredibly, 57% trust the government on handling international events, but only 43% do so on domestic issues.
Probably the figure that will cause the most angst among political commentators, especially those on MSNBC is that virtually half of the public, 49% think the federal government poses an immediate threat to individuals' rights and freedoms. While this state of affairs lasts, the current administration has no hope of being reelected in 2012, and it will be a hard slog for the next one to pull that back quickly.
From a libertarian perspective though this is a great sign that the population at large is waking up to the facts. In most democracies it is normal for the majority of the people to rest in the comfort of the certain knowledge that the arms of old nanny are surrounding them protectively. Thanks to a decade of unprecedented state intervention, half of them are seeing the opposite. Menken would be pleased to see the degree people agree with:
It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men. – H. L. Mencken
The poll is reported here.