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Tea Partisans Push Anger To New Highs

From the highly partisan Pew Research Center:

(Click to enlarge)

Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor

April 18, 2010


By almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days. A new Pew Research Center survey finds a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of government – a dismal economy, an unhappy public, bitter partisan-based backlash, and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials.

Rather than an activist government to deal with the nation’s top problems, the public now wants government reformed and growing numbers want its power curtailed. With the exception of greater regulation of major financial institutions, there is less of an appetite for government solutions to the nation’s problems – including more government control over the economy – than there was when Barack Obama first took office

The Tea Party movement, which has a small but fervent anti-government constituency, could be a wild card in this election. On one hand, its sympathizers are highly energized and inclined to vote Republican this fall. On the other, many Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the Tea Party represents their point of view better than does the GOP.

These are the principal findings from a series of surveys that provide a detailed picture of the public’s opinions about government. The main survey, conducted March 11-21 among 2,505 adults, was informed by surveys in 1997 and 1998 that explored many of the same questions and issues. While a majority also distrusted the federal government in those surveys, criticism of government had declined from earlier in the decade. And the public’s desire for government services and activism was holding steady.

Perhaps it was because Mr. Clinton was President that we saw such a decline in criticism of the government. Or maybe Pew is simply re-writing history.

This is not the case today. Just 22% say they can trust the government in Washington almost always or most of the time, among the lowest measures in half a century. About the same percentage (19%) says they are “basically content” with the federal government, which is largely unchanged from 2006 and 2007, but lower than a decade ago

Opinions about elected officials are particularly poor. In a follow-up survey in early April, just 25% expressed a favorable opinion of Congress, which was virtually unchanged from March (26%), prior to passage of the health care reform bill. This is the lowest favorable rating for Congress in a quarter century of Pew Research Center surveys. Over the last year, favorable opinions of Congress have declined by half – from 50% to 25%.

So it turns out that Congress’ “particularly poor” rating actually means the lowest favorable rating in the history of the Pew surveys.

While job ratings for the Obama administration are mostly negative, they are much more positive than the ratings for Congress; 40% say the administration does an excellent or good job while just 17% say the same about Congress

Which is intriguing insofar as the Democrat controlled Congress has simply rubberstamped every Obama initiative. So why should Mr. Obama’s rating be more than twice higher?

Federal agencies and institutions also are viewed much more positively than is Congress. Nonetheless, favorable ratings have fallen significantly since 1997-1998 for seven of 13 federal agencies included in the survey. The declines have been particularly large for the Department of Education, the FDA, the Social Security Administration, as well as the EPA, NASA and the CDC.

How can that be? Are these not exemplary government agencies?

In terms of job performance, majorities give positive ratings to just six of 15 agencies or institutions tested, including the military (80% good/excellent) and the Postal Service (70%).

The Post Office? Which is running billions in the red and is about to cut its services back even more? Some people are very easily pleased.

By the way, have you ever noticed how the Post Office is considered a government agency when its ratings are high, but somehow it’s a separate and independent agency when they are being criticized.

As was the case in the 1997 study of attitudes about government, more people say the bigger problem with government is that it runs its programs inefficiently (50%) than that it has the wrong priorities (38%). But the percentage saying government has the wrong priorities has increased sharply since 1997 – from 29% to 38%.

Where are the polls that ask what people see as the government’s priorities? We suspect ‘income redistribution’ would now be at the top of the list. At least, it should be.

Perhaps related to this trend, the survey also finds a rise in the percentage saying the federal government has a negative effect on their day-to-day lives. In October 1997, 50% said the federal government had a positive effect on their daily lives, compared with 31% who said its impact was negative. Currently, 38% see the federal government’s personal impact as positive while slightly more (43%) see it as negative

Which is amazing when you consider that probably more than 40% of the US population get some kind of direct financial benefit from the federal government.

Despite the attention captured by demonstrations and other expressions of anti-government sentiment, Americans’ feelings about the federal government run more toward frustration rather than anger. In the current survey, 56% say they are frustrated with the federal government, 21% say they are angry and 19% say they are basically content. Since October 1997, majorities have expressed frustration with the federal government, with a single notable exception; in November 2001, two months after the 9/11 attacks, just 34% said they were frustrated with the federal government.

And despite the frustration most Americans feel with government, a majority of the public (56%) says that if they had a child just getting out of school they would like to see him or her pursue a career in government; and 70% say the government is a good place to work, unchanged from October 1997.

Who can deny that? Government workers now make nearly twice what people make in the private sector, and their benefits are three times better. And they face no risk whatsoever of ever losing their jobs. What’s not to like?

However, along with the frustrated majority, which has remained fairly steady over the years, the survey also identifies a small but growing segment of the public that holds intense anti-government views. The proportion saying that they are angry with the federal government has doubled since 2000 and matches the high reached in October 2006 (20%).

What’s this? At long last is someone inadvertently admitting that there was anger at the federal government during the Bush administration?

Over this period, a larger minority of the public also has come to view the federal government as a major threat to their personal freedom – 30% feel this way, up from 18% in a 2003 ABC News/Washington Post survey. Intense anti-government sentiment is highly concentrated among certain groups – Republicans, independents and others who lean Republican, and those who agree with the Tea Party movement

Again, the non-partisan Pew Center seems to forget how the left told us for years that the Patriot Act had stripped us all of our liberties and would put us all under the heel of that tyrant George Bush.

But this is how history gets re-written right before our very eyes. Never mind that the Democrats in 2006 and Mr. Obama and the Democrats in 2008 campaigned on a platform of anger and hate.

The Democrats and the rest of the left hated the government. They hated the war in Iraq. And most of all, they hated George Bush.

They hated every thing that came out of the Bush administration, and ran on a platform that promised that they would do everything differently.

But all of sudden those eight years of pure hatred and fury from the left never happened. It’s only those damn Tea Party people who are the haters.

Sure, they look like moms and pops from middle America. But they are firebrand revolutionaries consumed with a dangerous anarchist fury that is bound to destroy the country.

Pew and the rest of our media guardians tell us so each and every day.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, April 19th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Tea Partisans Push Anger To New Highs”

  1. canary says:

    Are they saying the average of 50 people per state surveyed were from the same participants they surveyed over a decade ago, or did they borrow from CNN viewer’s survey.

  2. NoNeoCommies says:

    To paraphrase Bruce Banner’s (Hulk) catch phrase: “You haven’t seen me angry yet! You really wouldn’t like me angry!”
    If the right followed the rules of leftist activists and protesters, combined with our higher level of education and greater life experience, there would not be enough ink or airtime for the MSM to cover all the “horrors”.

  3. jackal40 says:

    “Tea Partisans Push Anger To New Highs”

    Seems to me they got the headline wrong – the Tea Party and the majority of the American people seem to be pi$$ed off AT the government. We The People are angry at government for not listening to us, shoving unread monstrosities called legislation down our throats, and then calling us ‘Racists’ for voicing our opinions to what they are doing.

    Can’t wait for No-vember!

  4. proreason says:

    How “high” was George Washington’s anger?

    Just guessing, but if you put your property, your family, your country, your freedom and your life at risk….then you are probably a wee bit angry.

    And when you boil it down, the Founding Fathers had less to lose than we do. Nobody was threatening to break them. They all would have been influential and wealthy people under King George. The English were not persecuting the colonists. The taxation rate was a fraction of what our rate is. The colonists were allowed to govern themselves with only minor intervention from the crown. Although they were not allowed to vote on representatives in the English Parliament, they probably had more influence than we have over Obamy, Pelosi and Reid. Nobody was confiscating their property. They weren’t being forced to buy things they didn’t want. Common Law was enforced, not overruled at the whim of the English. Their politicians weren’t bowing down to foreing governments. They children weren’t being forced to assume mountains of debt. The English didn’t scorn them at every opportunity. Their religions were not being marginalized.

    So by any rational measure, we should be many times as angry as were our Founding Fathers.

  5. Reality Bytes says:

    Let me know when fairways at the retirement villages in Florida are set upon by an angry mob of seniors while the rank & file sit on their patios sipping gin & tonics.

    Let me know when a convoy of cadillac’s & lincolns all with their left signals on snarl traffic (OK – forget this one. They’re already doing this).

    Let me know when the largest voting block, the retired seniors line up replete with walkers, hearing aids & those wrap around sunglasses at their voting centers to let congress & the president know what they can do with their healthcare reform.

    “SHOVE IT SONNY!” comes to mind.

    REQUIRED READING FOR ALL S&L’RS. It is prophetic! I read it 3 years ago & it makes our points about the dolts in Washington & the effects they have on our country in the most hillariously brilliant way.


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