Americans Really Don’t Like Their Government Right Now

65 percent say they are very or somewhat dissatisfied with their system of government.

Ballot inspector Connie Bell, right, holds open a curtain on a voting booth, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, during voting in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary at Memorial High School in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Brian Resnick
Jan. 22, 2014, 3:45 a.m.

2013 was the “year of polling ter­ribly,” in which many D.C. in­tu­itions and the pres­id­ent sank to re­cord low ap­prov­al rat­ings in pub­lic opin­ion polling. 2014 looks to keep the trend go­ing.

Gal­lup is out today with a poll that finds 65 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans are “very or some­what dis­sat­is­fied” with their “sys­tem of gov­ern­ment and its ef­fect­ive­ness.”  This is the highest per­cent­age re­cor­ded since 2001. Gal­lup notes, “The trend line on this meas­ure shows re­mark­able change over time, rising from few­er than one in four Amer­ic­ans ex­press­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion in 2002, after the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks, to the cur­rent situ­ation in which al­most two-thirds are dis­sat­is­fied.”

Not sur­pris­ing: Re­pub­lic­ans and in­de­pend­ents are the most dis­sat­is­fied — just 28 per­cent of each cat­egory re­port sat­is­fac­tion. Demo­crats, after all, have their party’s pres­id­ent in of­fice. Forty sev­en per­cent of them are sat­is­fied.

Take this poll and com­bine it with oth­ers that find that only one in four like the dir­ec­tion the coun­try is go­ing in, and that people find gov­ern­ment to be the top prob­lem con­front­ing the coun­try, and the pic­ture that emerges is pretty grim. Amer­ic­ans don’t think Amer­ic­an gov­ern­ment is work­ing very well.

But re­mem­ber: These ques­tions are of­ten vaguely worded. Sat­is­fac­tion with something so enorm­ous as “the U.S. sys­tem of gov­ern­ment” is bound to mean dif­fer­ent things across re­spond­ents. It might not mean, as Alex Seitz-Wald called for, a total re­work­ing of the Con­sti­tu­tion. It’s just a gen­er­al feel­ing of mal­aise. One, hope­fully, that can be remedied.  


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