Trust in Government
Posted by PLaplace on April 22, 2010
Daniel Henninger has an excellent column in the Wall Street Journal today about a new Pew Research Center poll on the people’s trust in the government at both the national and state level. Henninger likens the results to a “no confidence” vote in government, and I’m inclined to agree with him. The whole article is well worth reading.
Digging deeper into the numbers though, I made an interesting discovery. Throughout the long and continuing health care debate, many comparisons have been made to both LBJ’s Great Society programs and FDR’s New Deal with regards to their unrepealability. While the Pew Data doesn’t go all the way back to FDR, it does include some statistics for LBJ. In particular, during the “Kennedy/Johnson” administration, as Pew labels it, public trust in government averaged 68%. For comparison, public trust in government during the first year of the Obama administration averages 22%. One doesn’t need a background in statistics to see that this is significant.
What interests me about these numbers is that throughout the debate there has been the fear/hope, depending on which side of the aisle you’re on, that if the Democrats could just ram through health care reform, it would be impossible to repeal. The evidence presented for this was almost always Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, all products of either the New Deal or the Great Society. I would argue that the Pew’s polling data undermines this claim fairly severely. With an electorate where almost four out of five people distrust the government, I don’t think repeal of the health care bill will be nearly as difficult a proposition as feared. If the GOP can embrace its limited government principles, tap into this general distrust of intrusive government, and tie it all together to health care, taxes, and spending, then they may have a strong, winning combination on their hands come November.