Interesting — if bifurcated, nearly schizophrenic — poll results from Pew:
Currently, just 19% say they can trust the government always or most of the time, among the lowest levels in the past half-century. Only 20% would describe government programs as being well-run. And elected officials are held in such low regard that 55% of the public says “ordinary Americans” would do a better job of solving national problems.
Yet at the same time, most Americans have a lengthy to-do list for this object of their frustration: Majorities want the federal government to have a major role in addressing issues ranging from terrorism and disaster response to education and the environment.
And most Americans like the way the federal government handles many of these same issues, though they are broadly critical of its handling of others – especially poverty and immigration.
We want government to take care of darn near everything, but we expect it to screw most everything up. We, the people, have some serious issues.
Further down the results help show why the “libertarian moment” and the Tea Party haven’t accomplished much in DC:
Only about a third of Republicans and Republican leaners see a major role for the federal government in helping people get out of poverty (36%) and ensuring access to health care (34%), by far the lowest percentages for any of the 13 issues tested. Fully 72% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say the government should have a major role in helping people out of poverty, and 83% say it should play a major role in ensuring access to health care.
Moreover, while majorities of Republicans favor a major government role in ensuring a basic income for people 65 and older (59%), protecting the environment (58%) and ensuring access to high-quality education (55%), much larger shares of Democrats – 80% or more in each case – favor a large government role.
Anyone truly desiring smaller government has an awful lot of inertia to overcome — not just from Washington establishment politicians, but also from their “conservative” friends and neighbors.