by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A lot of polls have been taken in the run-up to Thursday’s anniversary of the storming of the U.S. Capitol, and they make for sobering reading.
A CBS/YouGov poll finds that 68 percent of respondents see the January 6 attacks as “a harbinger of increasing political violence, not an isolated incident.” Many people on both the left and the right have become cynical about government. Pollster Scott Rasmussen tells me that his surveys consistently show that only about one in four Americans think their government has the consent of the governed, a central tenet of our Declaration of Independence.
“For a nation built on the belief that governments derive their only just authority from the consent of the governed, this is a real problem,” he says. He believes that President Biden made a fundamental mistake is pursuing a dramatic set of policy goals, given that six out of ten voters at the time of his inauguration said he should focus on restoring trust and confidence in our system of politics. A majority of every measured demographic group places a higher priority on restoring trust rather than on policy goals.
Many commenters have ideas they claim will help rectify this trust deficit. Democrats advanced an election “reform” bill, but it was so partisan and sweeping that it didn’t attract a single GOP backer in Congress. Republicans haven’t made many concrete suggestions for restoring trust, and merely mouthing Trump-style populist slogans won’t add much.
Winston Churchill is said to have once observed that “you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything else.” Wouldn’t it be nice if the elites of both parties recognized that after 50 solid years of declining trust in our institutions, perhaps they should reluctantly go along with an idea that is consistently popular with Americans across the board?