Government

Americans Split Pretty Evenly on Proper Role of Government

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The latest poll from Gallup Politics looks at how Americans view the proper role of govenment. Though it might come as a surprise to anyone watching U.S. politics, about an equal number claim to prefer a government that provides "only the most basic" functions as favor a government that "takes active steps in every area it can to try and improve the lives of its citizens." 

For the poll, conducted earlier this month, respondents were asked to rate themselves on a 5-point scale with "1" corresponding to the limited-government perspective and "5" signalling support for an activist government. About 35 percent rated themselves as "1" or "2", meaning they would prefer government play a minimal role in the lives of citizens. Slightly less (32 percent) chose "4" or "5", indicating a preference to turn over control of their lives to the state. The remaining third of respondents favored a middle ground. This is the fourth time Gallup has asked this particular polling question (starting in 2010) and all four polls have featured a relatively even split. 

Unsurprisingly, Democrats were more likely to favor ample government than Republicans—though there was plenty of partisan crossover. About 17 percent of Republican respondents slotted themselves in the pro-big government camp, and 10 percent of Democrats said they support a more limited government. Meanwhile about a quarter of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats rated themselves in the middle of the government-scope scale. 

Gallup

Gallup also asked respondents whether they thought government was currently doing too much or not enough. More than half (54 percent) said it's "trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses" while 41 percent said the government needs to "do more to solve our country's problems."

Of limited-government fans from question one, 86 percent think the government is currently too hands-on, with those neutral on question one also tending to lean this way. However, when it comes to big-government supporters, a terrifying 74 percent thinks government isn't active enough in our lives right now and should be doing more.

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  1. The poll is wrong. 90% of American want the government to do the shit they want it to do, but not the things they don’t want it to do.

  2. “only the most basic” functions

    Yeaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh … noooooooo. “Define ‘most-basic functions'”, or we can’t even have an intelligent conversation. I think we all know about how “most basic” comes out for “most ‘murcans”.

    I’d say no more than 10% of Americans would support living under what the Constitution actually lays out as government’s duties. And not because some portion of the 90% who oppose it are anarchists. I’m one of the 10% – I’d take it tomorrow. Most don’t want to give up all the unconstitutional FREE SHIT and bureaucracy.

    Sad, ultimately, what’s become of a great “experiment”. It’s all over now but they crying.

    1. ‘Most basic’ functions for most people tend to include social security. That should tell you all you need to know.

      1. Precisely what I was thinking

      2. I guess I must be one of the rare 10% also, because I’ll make a deal with the feds, give me half of what I paid in right now and I opt out.

        1. They can’t, it’s already been spent.

    2. The Libertarian Moment will restore some of our lost glory.

    3. “Most basic” is relative, you see.

      1. $15/hr minimum wage is pretty most basic… for example.

    4. The only proper function of government is to defend indivdual negative liberty. To that end their actions should be limited to the retaliatory use of force.

  3. Would you trust this man???

    I don’t know, does he have candy in his windowless van?

    1. “It’s not a rape van! It’s a spy van!”

      1. “It’s just a cavity search for weapons, we swear!” *begins reacharound*

      2. That’s what government is for a lot of people. A guy with a fistful of Zagnuts so enticing you can’t help but get in his van.

        1. WHO CAN RESIST THE PEANUTY AND COCONUT TASTE SENSATION OF ZAGNUTS?!?!?!

          1. I don’t like coconut. Is there an alternative – like Mounds (insert sexual joke here)?

            1. Mounds are almost entirely coconut.

  4. Did anyone poll the Millennials?

    1. You said “poll”….huh huh….huh huh.. ..huh huh…huh huh…..

      1. Thut up Beavith, or I’ll kick your ath again!

    2. They fall under all of the neutral categories because they don’t know and thinking is hard, and they have a text coming in on their iPhone right now…

    3. Didn’t we agree that would be called an “Ekins”?

  5. while 41 percent said the government needs to “do more to solve our country’s problems.

    It’s really a mental strain to wrap one’s mind around the fact that 41% of the country are this fucking stupid.

  6. Progressives are pretty upfront about their big government obsession whereas Socons, perhaps, refuse to believe that policing morality is the very definition of big-government and will, instead, focus on the business end of things and be polled as preferring a less active government.

    In a strange twist here one could almost conclude that Progressives are likely quite comfortable with the growth of government bureaucracies that are involved with enforcing planned morality norms as long as these activities don’t threaten more liberal social choices like abortion and gay marriage.

    Ultimately, over-reaching and invasive government is no respecter of politics and is just as thrilled to burgeon under any worldview willing to grant it yet more authority.

    1. Ultimately, over-reaching and invasive government is no respecter of politics and is just as thrilled to burgeon under any worldview willing to grant it yet more authority

      The progtards don’t udnerstand this, just like they don’t understand human nature.

      When the boot comes down on their own necks, they’ll be totally shocked.

    2. Progressives are pretty upfront about their big government obsession whereas Socons, perhaps, refuse to believe that policing morality is the very definition of big-government and will, instead, focus on the business end of things and be polled as preferring a less active government.

      True for several reasons.

      For one, much of “progressives”‘ desired interventions involve a lot of quantitative judgments and hence would employ a lot of administrators, while traditionalists’ preferred interventions are more binary and hence simpler to administer.

      For another, trads expect their form of social enforcement to mostly require very little policing, as most people & major institutions simply would not break the laws. They don’t mind so much behaviors driven underground, just so respectable businesses & institutions don’t purvey them. So they think these are small-gov’t choices. “Progressives” aim to continually churn society, never settling into a pattern that would make itself anywhere close to self-enforcing.

      Finally, trads to a large extent really are socially conservative, wanting to maintain the status quo, which they don’t see as requiring extra gov’t.

  7. Let’s see if we can break it down:

    53% of democrats want more active government = I WANT MOAR FREE SHIT!!!!

    16% of republicans want more active government = LOCK UP THOSE FAGGOTS AND DOPE SMOKERS!!!!

    31% of independents aren’t sure = DUH, WHICH WAY DID HE GO GEORGE, WHICH WAY DID HE GO?, DURRRR!!!!

    1. 16% of republicans want more active government = LOCK UP THOSE FAGGOTS AND DOPE SMOKERS!!!!

      That’s only the 16% that perceive themselves that way. I’m willing to bet there’s a lot more who will actually support big government when pressed to eliminate functions.

    2. H – so, you got a look at the poll data, did you?!

  8. Unsurprisingly, Democrats were more likely to favor ample government than Republicans.

    Yet, according to the Reason commentariat, libertarians should view both parties with equal suspicion, rather than acknowledge that one is demonstrably preferable to the other.

    1. Because the Republican POLITICIANS also love big government.

  9. I’d like to see it broken down by sex, race, age, and location.

    Say, know what might be interesting? Poll results by time of day or day of the week the Q was asked. Sometimes these things correlate in ways you’d never have guessed. One thing brought out in The Mothman Prophecies were statistics on UFO sightings by day of the week.

  10. Is zero an option? I’d go with zero.

  11. They should run through the list — military, social security, medicare, FCC, FAA, FDA, etc. What would people do without. There would be more split on things like housing, food stamps, etc.

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