How can we all be so connected, and our government be so disconnected?
One of the benefits of living in the 21st century is that thanks to jet travel and the Internet, I constantly talk to Americans from every state and every walk of life. And believe me, they are not shy about sharing their opinions. It gives me a perspective that I wish more of our politicians and media people inside the Beltway Bubble could experience.
If I had to explain their low approval ratings in one word, it would be “disconnection.” I don’t think there’s ever been a time when the people in government and the media were so out of touch with the people they’re supposed to be serving (as many of them learned to their shock on Election night, 2016.) They apparently really believed that when voters asked for “change,” they wanted bigger deficits and a bloated nanny state regulating the size of their sodas. Trust me, based on what they told me, they did not.
If you ask most Americans what they want from government, it’s not to have every aspect of their lives “transformed,” including those that worked a lot better before the government “improved” them. They don’t want 2,000-page bills nobody’s read, or bureaucrats telling them which doctor they can see or how much money they’re allowed to make. The list of what most Americans say they want is actually pretty short: national defense, secure borders, safe streets; smooth highways; care for veterans, seniors, children and the disabled; good schools, police and firefighters, and oh yeah, it would be nice if the trash were picked up on time. That’s about it.
Yet somehow, the government finds so many ways to meddle in our lives that federal, state and local government spending combined now equals about 40 percent of America’s entire gross domestic product. And in some places, they still don’t pick up the garbage on time!
In poll after poll, Americans say loud and clear: they want less government and less spending. They don’t care what the talking heads or the endlessly-surprised economists or the “too-big-to-fail” Wall Street failures say: they want government out of their lives, out of their wallets and out of their way. Sadly, whenever political candidates support that philosophy, their opponents and the media paint them as cold-hearted and uncaring. Compassion has been redefined as the willingness to spend limitless amounts of other people’s money. The media also devote almost no time to examining political philosophies and a lot of time to gotcha games, gaffes, and who’s ahead in the horse race.
But the horse is now out of the barn. Americans have experienced firsthand the results of so-called “progressive” policies. Government out of control, the debt at record levels, a health care boondoggle two-thirds of us didn’t want, and the economy still struggling long after it should’ve roared back.
The Election of 2016 was not a surprise to me. I predicted it months in advance because, unlike so many people who claim to represent or report on the American people, I actually talk to – and more importantly, listen to - the American people. Now, even though the economy has roared back, I’ll make another prediction about the upcoming election:
I predict that politicians who try to sell Americans on a return to policies that they saw didn’t work will fail, for the same reason that a used car salesman has a hard time selling a lemon to the same customer twice. I also predict that politicians who were elected on a promise to change those policies will stay in office only as long as they remember why the American people sent them there.