For what it’s worth, if you want a glimpse of the public mindset concerning 16 major institutions in American society, you should check out the new Gallup survey (H/T Mike Antonucci). The following are some salient observations on how favorably Americans view the 16 major institutions:
- Congress slipped from next-to-last in 2009 to dead last this year, with only 11 percent saying they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence
- No institution lost more confidence over the past year than the Presidency, which dropped from 51 percent to 36 percent — falling in rank from fifth to seventh
- The three most respected American institutions, and the only ones to achieve high confidence from a majority of Americans: The military (76 percent), small business (66 percent) and the police (59 percent)
- Apart from Congress, the three least respected American institutions are: HMOs (19 percent), big business (19 percent) and organized labor (20 percent) — though HMOs and big business actually ticked up in confidence from 2009
- Only one other institution recorded an increase in confidence from the American public: the medical system, which went from 36 percent to 40 percent
- Check out the survey to see where other institutions were rated: U.S. Supreme Court; criminal justice system; church/organized religion; public schools; banks; newspapers; television news
As far as a bellwether of popular sentiment heading into the 2010 election, the sum of these results indicates a mood very favorable to Republicans. Especially encouraging is the dramatic distinction between big business and small business. So is the declining faith in the federal government and its corruption and bureaucracy, which has vastly overreached and finally drawn the attention of a growing number of Americans.
Our national character long has distrusted big institutions (Big Government, Big Business, Big Labor)… but what are we going to do about it now?
Of course, the visceral disdain for Democratic Party rule and the fruits of Progressivism should not be confused with anything approaching a badly-needed long-term victory for liberty and limited government. In the battle for hearts and minds, little has been achieved. A lot of hard work remains. But it does count for something. Just observing….
Finally, a memo to political candidates and campaign staffs: If surveys like this one don’t inform your press releases and talking points, you really aren’t trying that hard.