The Federal Government Is Too Damned Powerful, 60 Percent of Americans Say


Public Domain

Last week, I pointed to polling numbers which indicate that Americans may be evenly divided on the abstract question of whether the federal government should be big and active or small and restrained, but agree that the real-world government is doing to much. One-third might favor Leviathan, one-third something you can drown in the bathtub and a final third might be out to lunch on the issue, but 53 percent of respondents to a Gallup poll said the government we have now is doing "too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses." Now a new poll, following up on the same theme, has a record number of Americans saying that the federal government is too powerful.

Writes Joy Wilke at Gallup:

PRINCETON, NJ—Six in 10 Americans (60%) believe the federal government has too much power, one percentage point above the previous high recorded in September 2010. At least half of Americans since 2005 have said the government has too much power. Thirty-two percent now say the government has the right amount of power. Few say it has too little power.

Too powerful federal government

There are some partisan differences on that point, as you might expect, but even 38 percent of Democrats share the opinion that the federal government is too powerful—a high-water mark since Barack Obama took up residence in the White House.

Not surprisingly, given the Team Red/Team Blue dynamics of American politics, Democrats used to consider the feds too threatening when George W. Bush was in office, while Republicans found the federal government under his administration relatively dreamy. But overall belief that we've created a monster on the banks of the Potomac has drifted upward through both the Bush and Obama administrations. Given the similarity in their policies toward spending, war, the surveillance state and executive power, always favoring a larger and more powerful state, that shouldn't be a shocker, once you get through the tribalism.