Americans believe that Washington, D.C., is not doing enough to solve the nation’s problems. The situation is so bad that this failure of government has become the most serious concern for the country, they say. But paradoxically, many Americans also believe the federal government is the best hope to fix its own inability to function. Government is the problem and the solution.
That’s one finding of the latest Allstate/Atlantic Media Heartland Monitor poll, which shows that Americans think the most serious issue facing the country is that “the political system in Washington is not working well enough to produce solutions to the nation’s problems.” The poll also shows that more Americans believe the federal government is “most likely to provide solutions” to that challenge, outpacing state and local governments, big business or national corporations, local businesses, community or non-profit groups, and individuals.
The results of the poll highlight the stakes of the 2016 election. The unexpected rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, self-styled outsiders with promises to bring bold change to Washington, suggests that Americans across the political spectrum are angry with the political status quo. If Americans fear their government isn’t working, but still believe the best hope to reverse that trend hinges on the feds, then it might matter a great deal to voters who becomes their next president. Will Americans prefer Trump, who offers a break with political tradition, or will they elect Hillary Clinton, a politician who styles herself as a successor to President Obama, and in that sense could be seen as a continuation of the past?