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James Shott / Sep. 4, 2015

Americans Believe That the Country Is Headed in the Wrong Direction

A year ago a poll by The Wall Street Journal and NBC found that 71 percent of Americans are pessimistic about the nation’s long-term prospects; we are on the wrong track, they believe, and they direct their blame at the elected leaders in Washington. Sixty percent think the country is in a state of decline.

A couple of months later a Politico poll showed that half believe we are on the wrong track, while only about 20 percent thought we are on the right track. And 64 percent believe the country is “out of control.”

This discontent runs so deep that 57 percent of those in the Journal/NBC poll said something upset them enough to carry a protest sign for one day, including 61 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of Republicans.

Their national government has grown in size and cost. The 2010 Census lists federal civilian employment at 2.8 million, 2 percent of total employment, and one federal employee for every 117 people. In 2014, Cost of Government Day fell on July 6.  Working people had to work 186 days out of the year just to meet all costs imposed by government. In FY2014 the federal government spent $3.5 trillion, $484 billion more than it took in.

The degree of power the federal government exercises over its citizens has grown to ridiculous levels. So extensive has government intrusiveness become that it now decides the kinds of light bulbs we can use and regulates the toilets we can buy, and is about to exert control over outdoor cooking grills and people who heat their homes by burning wood. It attempted to gain the power to come onto your property and take control of part or all of it if areas there collect a sufficient amount of rainwater.

Government incompetence, long a subject of ridicule, is at an all-time high. Among recent failures:

  • The bright idea to allow guns to flow to Mexican drug cartels, resulting in the death of Border Patrol Agent Bryan Terry.

  • Failure to respond to requests for additional security led to the murder of our Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three more Americans in Benghazi.

  • The IRS went to war against politically conservative organizations that had applied for tax-exempt status.

  • The Veterans Administration’s disgraceful treatment of American military veterans is so awful that Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson suggested doing away with the agency and putting the Department of Defense in charge of veterans’ healthcare.

  • President Barack Obama thinks that climate change is a greater threat and more important than crime-ridden inner cities, terrorism, or a nuclear Iran, and supports measures that will cost millions of dollars and thousands of jobs, all for a fraction of a percent improvement in the environment, if that.

The business environment in the U.S. has become such that American companies find it more beneficial to move operations out of the country than to keep them here; all the while some in government condemn those businesses as “greedy” and “unpatriotic.”

With the campaign season for the 2016 presidential election well underway, the Republican field of 17 candidates is led not by existing office holders in Congress or statehouses, but by three non-politicians who have never held elective office before: Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. As of last Wednesday, the combined approval percentages for those three totaled 56 percent of all 17 candidates. This unusual circumstance has occurred despite the fact that several of the other candidates have achieved significant success as governors, which is a good indicator that they could effectively run the federal government. Others have been strong conservatives in Congress. This underscores the idea that people are disgusted with government and those who are involved in it at both the federal and state levels.

Government grows in size, cost and power because those in government want it to, and those who put people in power have not elected people who want to constrain government growth. Yes, it is true that people who are elected because they advocated smaller, less expensive, more efficient government, and conservative values frequently fail to follow their campaign promises, as we see from observing the actions of the current Republican-controlled Congress.

We should not count on the rising generation for much help to correct this situation. Pew Research in March of last year reported that this group votes heavily Democrat and supports an activist government.

“As a general and logical matter, younger people’s dearth of life experiences and their quixotic idealism make them especially vulnerable to simplistic appeals and emotional manipulation for utopia’s grandiosity and social causes, which are proclaimed achievable only through top-down governmental designs and social engineering,” so writes author and legal scholar Mark Levin in his great new book Plunder and Deceit.

He notes, “the relentless indoctrination and radicalization of younger people … from kindergarten through twelfth grade to higher education in colleges and universities” as why the rising generation does not have an appreciation for American traditions and values.

Therefore, the challenging job of restoring America falls to their parents’ generation, who must elect people who truly value America’s traditions.


James Shott is a columnist for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, and publishes his columns on several Websites, including his own, Observations.

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