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Gallup Poll: Americans Say No. 1 Problem is Government

by Wes Messamore, published

In Gallup's first review since the midterm elections of public opinion regarding the most important problem facing America, government was the number one answer given by respondents, with 19% or 1 in 5 respondents saying some aspect of the federal government is the top problem facing the U.S. today:

Unsurprisingly in the Trump era, immigration was a close second, but interestingly, uniting the country came in third, which may provide some insight into why Americans consider the government so problematic. According to Gallup:

"The government has commonly been cited in recent years as the most important problem facing the country, with the problem having received or been tied for the most mentions - 22 times in the last 24 months."

That dissatisfaction goes hand in hand with the way we've been doing government lately– a very mean-spirited, unscrupulous fight between Republicans and Democrats, a struggle in which both sides are willing to be as unfair and unreasonable as possible– even to the point of betraying their own purported values and policy priorities– in a mad struggle for power and prestige.

This is how the party leadership is leading governance in America, and because it's dramatic, it's great for ratings, so the news media have succumbed to the strong pull, and wittingly or unwittingly, added their inertia to the race to the bottom of hyper-polarity, and rank-and-file party members have embraced the narratives of extreme partisanship and perpetuated them as well.

But most Americans, or at least a solid plurality of them, don't want to continue playing this game, which they feel has rigged the system against the best interests of the commonweal, and served to obscure the most unfair aspects of entrenched special interests and establishmentarianism in our government.

That might be why a slight majority of eligible voters didn't even turn out to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. These people obviously didn't think it would matter very much whether one or the other of two pre-selected Republicans and Democrats won the election, and as this Gallup poll reveals, it's not because they're fine with how things are going in government. We need election reform now.

Also revelatory of the partisan dysfunction at root of this voter complacency and dissatisfaction with the U.S. government, is the record number of people leaving the Republican and Democratic Parties at this time. Weeks before the midterm election, independent voters vastly outnumbered Republicans, and vastly outnumbered Democrats:

"As of August, just three months before the contentious 2018 midterm elections, 28 percent of registered voters are Republicans, 27 percent of respondents say they are Democrats, and 43 percent identify themselves as political independents. The problem isn’t only in messaging during campaign season. In a government dominated by the two-party system for most of its history, policymaking is fraught with the extreme polarization of partisan politics and the 43 percent of voters who are independent are expected by the two-party system to quietly endure as the 'silent plurality.'"

But there is a better way to do politics and governance in America, and the growing independent voter movement is on to it:

1) Going directly to the sources of news instead of letting parties, and partisan-biased news companies filter information for us.

2) Looking up a candidates' record in office or in their career prior to politics to learn about who they are rather than using their party affiliation as a substitute for research and forming an independent opinion for ourselves.

3) Coming to a better understanding of matters of state, law, economy, and diplomacy, to decide what we think are the best solutions to the problems we see with government, rather than march in lockstep on every issue with a partisan platform.

If you're one of the Americans who sees government as the number one problem, or among the worst problems Americans have to reckon with today, I urge you to check out this list of 50 Reasons to Bail Out of the Two Party System and Become an Independent Voter.

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