America’s government institutions and the political establishment that operates them are in a crisis of legitimacy.
The left believes the system is immoral due to its failure to promote its vision of redistributive social justice. The right believes the system is abandoning the Constitution and strangling liberty. And, the average citizen believes the American political system simply doesn’t work. It no longer provides prosperity and, more importantly, younger people are losing hope for a better future for themselves and their children, and among baby boomers a secure retirement is.
The debt ceiling crisis may have been the breaking point in public trust in the system. Poll after poll shows the public has lost patience with Washington.
• The country is on the wrong track.
• Major institutions, Congress, the presidency and parties hold little public confidence.
• Congressional leaders and the president have low approval – and their behavior in debt crisis was called “ridiculous,” “disgusting” and “stupid.”
• Public confidence in the recovery and the economy is dropping. Democracy is still valued, but losing support as it is now operating – partisanship, polarization, gridlock.
• Conflicts, such as over the debt ceiling, are interpreted as failures of the system and the results not supported by any faction.
When a system in crisis is about to renew its political mandate in a general election, expect volatile politics, colorful characters and extreme positions. 2012 should be unpredictable and probably scary.
Washington Post/Pew – July 28 to 31, 2011
Huffington Post – Debt deal reaction: New polls from CNN and SurveyUSA
Washington Post – Poll: Majority of public has lost faith in government ability to fix economy