Americans Now Say Partisanship is Nation’s Biggest Problem

For the last few years, when Gallup polled Americans on the most important problem facing America, the economy has continuously ranked higher than anything else because even as we are technically out of a recession, economic growth has been at a snail’s pace. However, Americans now see a bigger problem than the state of the economy and unemployment: hyper-partisanship.

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In the midst of a government shutdown and with the debt ceiling limit on the horizon, Gallup found that 33 percent — one-third! — of Americans now say dysfunction in government, caused by the political theater played out by leaders of both major parties in Washington, is the most concerning issue. This is the highest percentage recorded by Gallup dating back to 1939. Americans are tired of partisan games where lawmakers gamble with stakes that affect millions of citizens.

Toward the end of last week, U.S. House SpeakerJohn Boehner exclaimed very emphatically in a press conference that the government shutdown “isn’t some damn game.” It is a strong line. It is an emotional line and while many Americans believe that our lawmakers should not treat the full faith and credit of the United States and the impact this debate will have on the economy (as well as unemployment) as such, very few are willing to believe Boehner speaks with conviction.

Many of our lawmakers secured their seats in private, partisan primaries paid for by public dollars. In fact, in 2012, the American people spent more than half a billion dollars on the activities of private organizations to select representatives chosen by less than 2 percent of the voting age population at times. The ongoing political theater on Capitol Hill continues at the expense of the American people and even if a deal is struck tomorrow, we will be right back to where we are today in December.