Tackle specific issues to repair government


It seems these days that the federal government is fighting a losing battle against its own people. The highly vocal tea party movement has been railing against a central government which it sees as bloated, wasteful and ineffectual for a couple of years now, and that heated rhetoric has been slowly worming its way out into more mainstream parties and people. Many non-tea party members of the GOP have taken up that narrative, too. According to a Gallup poll, even the everyday American is jumping on the bandwagon. A record 81 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the United States government, and a staggering 49 percent of those polled “believe the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens,” according to the poll.

The results of this poll raise an interesting question — just what do these respondents mean in saying that the federal government is threatening their rights and freedoms as everyday citizens? What rights and freedoms, specifically, are being threatened, to what degree are they being threatened, and in what ways are they being threatened? Without furnishing such examples, it is hard to view this response as anything more than yet another instance of the irrational yelling and screaming that has plagued American politics recently.

Sure, the federal government is not perfect. As an institution run by human beings, it will never be perfect — that’s one of the sad facts of life. We readily admit that there are glaring weaknesses that need to be addressed in order for the country to right itself. But, unfortunately, such specific instances of federal weakness are rarely brought to light. Instead, there’s a lot of vague generalizing by politicians and the people alike. The tea party makes hazy references to the Constitution without ever citing the parts it claims to hold dear. The GOP seems to think that everything is wasteful, suggesting that the only solution to our nations woes is, dramatically enough, to scrap the government and start again. The Democrats are rather fond of catchphrases and buzz words, but little in the way of substance.

Perhaps this is why everyone is so discontent — rather than naming issues, positing solutions and putting plans into practice, we’ve spent nearly the entirety of President Barack Obama’s first term in office saying absolutely nothing, albeit very loudly. So, how about we stop castigating the federal government for negatively impinging upon our rights — whatever we mean by those — and start addressing specific, substantive issues?

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