The country’s top problem, according to Americans, is the U.S. government, the latest Gallup poll shows, in which “dissatisfaction with government” topped even health care and the economy as the top problem facing the nation today.
Gallup asked Americans to name the “most important problem facing this country today.” The results covered a wide variety of topics, from health care to war to “moral and ethical decline,” but 21% of Americans agreed that their government was the biggest problem. The economy ranked second with 19%, and health care came in third with 17%. Interestingly, despite the economy ranking so highly, a related issue, “gap between rich and poor,” ranked near the bottom, second only to war on the list of least important problems facing America.
The question did not ask which branch of the government or who specifically in power caused the “dissatisfaction.” The poll therefore points to American exasperation with both President Obama and both chambers of Congress, even the House of Representatives under Republican Speaker John Boehner.
Gallup notes that government dissatisfaction bested the economy on the top of the list in October, after the government shutdown, and continued to remain atop the list for the rest of the year. While yielding some ground to health care since the Obamacare website rollout, it still edged the health care dilemma out of the top spot as the year ended.
There is clear reason for Americans turning so adamantly against the Obama administration and Congress in the past few months. If anything is shocking, it is that it took a government shutdown to convince Americans that the current state of our government is cumbersome and dangerously large. Every other problem on the list save for “moral/ethical decline,” “lack of respect for each other,” and “threat of war” are either directly caused or exacerbated by the government.
The top answers that are not the government itself are prime examples of this. Americans consider health care a bigger priority now that the Affordable Care Act is interfering with their ability to see their doctor of choice. Conversely, they care about immigration less now that the government is doing nothing to fix it, too busy duct-taping solutions together for our budget crisis and the economy. They also care about unemployment less since the budget deficit and healthcare dominated the news cycle, and less about immigration since President Obama has not acted on the matter.
In other words, the trend seems to be that Americans become increasingly worried about problems when the government announces it will try to fix them — and are they truly so wrong to think, to paraphrase a great Republican, that government might not be the solution, but the problem itself?