Scott Rasmussen: Politics have failed: America will not
After observing, measuring and monitoring our nation’s dysfunctional political system for more than two decades, I have come to recognize that it is broken beyond repair.
There is obviously something wrong when our two major political parties have each nominated a candidate for president who is viewed unfavorably by a majority of Americans. In 2016, the partisans will support their team or vote against the other while the remaining voters don’t like either option.
It’s important to recognize, however, that this problem did not start with the nomination of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It’s been growing for at least a generation. Since 1992, we’ve had three consecutive presidents who took office with their party in control of Congress. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama each lost control of Congress during their time in the White House. This is a fundamental rejection of both political parties.
I’ve been exploring this theme and working to articulate what it means over the past 10 years or so. I even put some preliminary thoughts in a 2009 book, “In Search of Self-Governance.” The American people don’t want to be governed from the right, the left, or even the center. They want to govern their own lives and work with others to create a better world.
Next Monday, I will be making a special presentation at The King’s College in New York City to discuss how we can tap into these attitudes to provide a hopeful alternative to the current political dialogue. Despite the failures of our political system, I am incredibly optimistic about America’s future. Our nation’s best days are still to come and the opportunities provided for our children and grandchildren will be far greater than we can imagine.
How can I be so pessimistic about our political system and optimistic about the nation? Because politicians don’t lead the nation, they lag behind.
It’s always been that way in America. Even back in 1776, the politicians were following, not leading. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the eloquent words in the Declaration of Independence, he did not launch the revolution. His words were drafted 15 months after the fighting began. In fact, most of the British Governors had already been forced to leave the country before the American politicians declared the nation’s independence. The role — then and now — of the politicians is to confirm changes that have already taken place in the country.
It is the culture, not the political leaders who move the nation forward. So, the tone and lack of substance in Monday’s presidential debate will not drag the country down. On the first Wednesday in November, regardless of who is elected president, the culture will still be leading the nation forward. That’s worth celebrating.
When I look at America today, I see a nation of 65 million volunteers and 22 million entrepreneurs engaged in finding pragmatic solutions to the challenges before us. They’re getting things done, rather than just talking about it.
Community problem solving, fueled by the digital revolution and inspired by the Millennial Generation, is poised to overcome our failed system of politics and government. We may not be able to make our political system work better, but that won’t stop us from making society better.