Almost 90 Percent of People Believe the Government Is Broken

We have yet another poll showing virtually unanimous dissatisfaction with our political system. A CNN poll shows an impressive 86 percent who say that the government is broken. What is fascinating is how the two parties are now moving to join the chorus — to control the debate and prevent serious reforms.

The problem remains directing this anger in a productive direction toward real political reform. Instead, the two parties are moving to convert the mess that they created into a campaign for more power. Sarah Palin is telling tea party members that they must pick between the two parties, here. People like Joe Biden are objecting to the political failure (here despite their role in creating and maintaining the system. Both parties are trying to show that the solution is to give them more power over the other party.

It is a testament to the duopoly that the two parties can use their own failure to their advantage. The theory is that, if you object to the current status, you (and your party) cannot be part of the problem. Evan Bayh even blames it on “testosterone poisoning” while appearing with other politicians who have helped maintain the system, here. You will notice that none of these Republicans or Democrats are speaking of changing the structure of the political system — only the characters and “environment.”

Can you think of one issue that almost 90 percent of Americans agree on in terms of reform? Yet, it is likely that no real change will occur due to the monopoly of power by the two parties.

For the CNN poll result, click here.

56 thoughts on “Almost 90 Percent of People Believe the Government Is Broken”

  1. Some body actually graduated from a California school? And is actually going to admit it? This beats the hypothesis that had been established by any other person claiming to have graduated from a school in California?

    The things you learn on this site, Wayne is posting as another. Billy too.

  2. Fellow UofC Grad–

    How unfortunate for you to have stumbled upon the Turley Blawg. If I had your address I’d send you a sympathy card. Maybe you should cruise the Internet in search of a blog for mensa members who lack a sense of humor.

  3. Thanks for answering. I guess we will have to agree to disagree re the level of discourse evidenced by some people, particularly one poster who will remain Anonymous, if you know what I mean.

  4. In brief outline this is what has occurred: As the population of the country has grown and communities and states have passed more and more beyond the frontier stage of development, the decentralization of governmental power has constantly increased and the elective principle has been more and more extensively applied. As a consequence the burden placed upon the electorate has become more and more onerous. The voter has been called upon to vote more often and for an increasing number of officers. He must theoretically examine into the qualifications of a large number of candidates at frequent intervals. This has placed upon intelligent voting an enormous educational qualification. The task of the voter to obtain sufficient’ information about candidates long ago passed beyond what even the very intelligent citizen could fulfil and still maintain his place in competitive industry. The result is that the voter, though extremely intelligent in general, comes to the polls in utter ignorance of candidates and their qualifications for office. Nevertheless, he insists, in spite of his political ignorance, upon voting for someone. He takes his voting seriously and endeavors to make a show of voting intelligently. This attitude necessarily requires him to secure advice from someone as to whom to vote for. At once there is created the opportunity for the adviser to the voter. He first appears naturally as a local leader whom the electorate trusts. Soon, however, there arises the man who makes advising the politically ignorant voter his profession. Then this professional adviser becomes more of a director to the politically ignorant voter. This process goes on in every electoral district where the voter is politically ignorant enough to need some advice. It is not long before there is developed a hierarchy of professional advisers and directors to the politically ignorant voter. Sometimes there are competing hierarchies of such advisers and directors. One or the other, however, is the more generally successful, or both by agreement divide the privilege of advising the politically ignorant voter how to vote—each helping the other in its exclusive territory. Those who direct the politically ignorant majority how to vote have filled the state and municipal offices with those who are loyal to them first and to the governed afterward. The leaders of the successful organization of advisers and directors to the politically ignorant electorate have become an extra-legal but none the less real government. A decentralized legal government has been replaced by a centralized extra-legal government. Thus the power of government has again drifted into the hands of the few. These, pursuant to well-known human characteristics, use that power selfishly. The decentralized character of the legal governmental power, the fact that only part of the offices are filled at any time, and the enormous advantage which comes fromhaving a standing army of advisers and directors to guide the mass of politically ignorant voters, make it difficult to replace at the polls with real representatives of the electorate the appointees of this extra-legal government. We have, therefore, come finally to a well-defined extra-legal but none the less real government of the few, by the few, and for the few, at the expense and against the wish of the many. We have, in a word, achieved the establishment of a substantial unpopular government.

    Albert Kales (1914)

  5. Puzzling,

    My first impulse whenever I read the words “states rights” is to check and see what ability or right the state is trying to argue it has the right to limit. I realize that’s not always the case (just look at the Medical Marijuana issue in Colorado), but historically States Rights has been the cry of local lords arguing what a tyrant the king is.

    I question the wisdom limiting centralized power by centralizing power. You’re taking a power (the ability to choose Senators) away from a large group (voters) and putting it in the hands of a small group (the state legislator). Seems to me that’s the very definition of centralizing power.

  6. The structure of the government is not fine. Here are three ideas to address the two party lock on government and the growing centralization and unchecked abuses of government power:

    1. Return the Senate to appointment by state legislatures, reasserting state’s rights and limiting centralization of power. This original structure was undone in 1914.

    2. Drop the unconstitutional cap of 435 congressmen instituted by the 70th Congress. There should be upwards of 5000 representatives in Congress today based on population in the US. This would create congressional districts where representatives do not have to be millionaires to afford to run to 750,000 people, and voters actually know their congressman. This would also limit the ability of corporate interests and other lobbies to buy off members of congress, and open the door for third parties to emerge.

    3. Repeal the Federal Reserve Act, ending the third try at a central bank in the history of the United States. The Federal Reserve banking system allows the federal government to issue unlimited debt from the Treasury, since there is always a buyer. Without this feature there would be no ability to fight wars of aggression without taxing the people to pay for them, and no ability to create entitlements that aren’t funded. Closing the Federal Reserve would also allow the markets to set the price of borrowing money rather than central planning of interest rates by government. This would limit inflation and asset bubbles that result from unchecked government expansion of the money supply.

  7. What’s the name of the political theory that states if you have “winner take all” elections you’re almost guaranteed a two party system?

  8. PS There’s an interesting article in the NYT about the jurors in the Marshall (Brooke Astor) trial. Apparently, there were cat fights going on in the jury room. One juror, a “legal analyst” [whatever that means] for Bloomberg, felt physically threatened by another juror who flashed a “gang sign” at her in the jury room. Only in NY. They’re all giving interviews to Vanity Fair. What a circus.

    So, the whole case is probably going to be thrown out and retried. My question to Prof. Turley is whether limits should be placed on the defense’s ability to dumpster dive the jurors (hiring private eyes) after the verdict to ferret out misconduct. I am not a litigator, but this seems to have really gotten out of hand.

  9. Just stumbled on this blog and initially was thrilled, thinking I had finally found a group of intelligent, thoughtful posters.
    Then I read the commentary.

    Unfortunately, like most of these unmoderated sites, there’s definitely more heat than light.

    I wonder if Prof. Turley even bothers to wade through the meaningless blather to find the few comments that have any substance or contribute to a meaningful dialogue. What a shame.

    I know I will be blasted with a moronic ad hominem personal attack for making this comment, but I feel compelled to make it. Maybe if the commentators were limited to people with IQ’s in the triple digits or-gasp-lawyers. Okay, blast away.

    1. Fellow UOC grad:

      I do not actively monitor the comments. I barely have enough time to blog before the kids get up (I get great help from Nal, Elaine and others on editing). However, I believe you are wrong about our merry band. First, this site is committed to first amendment issues, among others. For that reason, I try hard not to delete comments or bar commentators. It is an open forum. Second, we have some of the brightest and funniest people on the Internet. We also have a civility rule that (while some corrective measures are needed from time to time) is largely respected. Besides, any IQ test I imposed would likely result in my being banished.

  10. foo,

    Good to see you. The interesting combination is the Major Drug Manufactures. While polluting the world with its various disposal habits they clamor in unison when someone wants to develop the rain forest. This cuts into over 2500 drugs that depend on a single source of contribution. The Rain Forest.

    BTW how is school treating you and those “mini” quiz’s you get?

  11. Prof Turley,

    Isn’t the current state of government entirely predictable based on Mancur Olson’s theories that you speak about during the start of all of your torts classes?

    Very very briefly, the populace is rationally ignorant, and special interests (i.e. focused interest groups regardless of political leaning) will always be more successful at getting laws that favor them that the undifferentiated populace. The public can only influence congress during particularly potent outrages.

  12. Anonymously Yours

    This is the problem. The structure is fine, it is the mass of the structure that is weak. The characters are the ones that make the structure weak. Strengthen the character and you strengthen the structure. I for one and not in favor of totally dismantling the system. The people do need more accountability not polarization.
    I agree completely but all of those characters are loath to give up their status and power and are firmly in charge of their respective Parties’ nominating and Primary apparatus. That situation limits the voters’ opportunity to make any real change to characters, individually or en masse.

    In my opinion, if we change the Primary rules thus giving new characters an opportunity to approach voters without having to be screened through each Party’s power maze, the citizenry can go about the process of really “throwing out the bums” and truly changing the cast of characters.

    The problem is that each set of Primary rules are controlled by individual states meaning that change would have to come about on a state by state basis. If we could pass a Federal law that mandates the change, it would be great but I don’t know if the Constitution would allow such a move … States’ Rights etc.

  13. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 22% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. That is the lowest level of strong approval yet recorded for this President.

    Forty-one percent (41%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -19. The Approval Index has been lower only on one day during Barack Obama’s thirteen months in office (see trends). The previous low came on December 22 as the Senate was preparing to approve its version of the proposed health care legislation.

  14. “You will notice that none of these Republicans or Democrats are speaking of changing the structure of the political system — only the characters and “environment.””

    This is the problem. The structure is fine, it is the mass of the structure that is weak. The characters are the ones that make the structure weak. Strengthen the character and you strengthen the structure. I for one and not in favor of totally dismantling the system. The people do need more accountability not polarization.

Comments are closed.