Acton Institute Powerblog

The Debt Crisis and Washington Disconnect

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A recent Rasmussen poll reflects what many are feeling in this country, a deep disconnect with Washington and its leaders. According to the polling firm,

The number of voters who feel the government has the consent of the governed – a foundational principle, contained in the Declaration of Independence – is down from 23% in early May and has fallen to its lowest level measured yet.

Seventeen percent of likely U.S. voters think the government has the consent of the governed and Congress has a record low approval rating with only 6 percent ranking their performance as “excellent” or “good.”

The problem is exacerbated by the massive concentration of power in the Beltway. The model of federalism put forth by the Founders seems like a dim memory. Former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neil famously declared “All politics is local.” The quote has a wide breadth of meaning for elected officials at all levels of government. But concentrated power is raising the partisan stakes as the jostling for entrenched power gets uglier. So much so, that politicians are now calling concerned citizens sounding the alarm on federal spending “terrorists.” Not only is the virtue of self-restraint dismissed when it comes to spending, but it is similarly dismissed when it comes to rhetoric.

Below is an August 1 clip that aired on ABC World News Tonight that speaks to this disconnect, especially felt by middle America or as some dismiss simply as “Flyover Country.” It is making the famous quip by William F. Buckley that “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston telephone directory than I would be by the 2,000 people on the faculty of Harvard University” all the more relevant.

Ray Nothstine is opinion editor of the the North State Journal in Raleigh, North Carolina. Previously, he was managing editor of Acton Institute's Religion & Liberty quarterly. In 2005 Ray graduated with a Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. He also holds a B.A. in Political Science from The University of Mississippi in Oxford.


  • Roger McKinney

    People are notorious liars on polls like these. They said the same thing before the latest Congressional elections and then voted for the same people, except for a handful of Tea Party politicians.

    If the American people didn’t like their politicians, they would vote new ones in. They rarely do.

    The media has made it popular to trash Congress, so the people go along in the poles. But the gridlock in Washington comes from the split in opinion of the voters. A small group of voters want fiscal responsibility; the majority don’t.

  • Is Washington in the loop?

  • Roger McKinney

    A few years ago Yahoo decided to remodel its front page, so it asked visitors what they wanted to see in news on the page. They said they wanted to see politics, good op-eds and international news, so Yahoo did as they asked. But the viewers plummeted like a rock!

    So they hired a data mining company to mine the click traffic and found that their viewers had lied to them. Most were clicking on stories about pop tarts, movie stars and athletes. So Yahoo remodeled their page again and viewership soared.

    In the field of public opinion surveying stories like Yahoo’s are multiplied hundreds of times. For no reason at all people will lie on surveys. Never trust what people say in a survey. Always check what they do.