The NBC/WSJ Poll Confirms The Great Political Divide In America

No, not Left vs. Right, though there is interplay between the partisan divide and the real divide.

The real divide, as we often discuss within these pages and at some point in what seems a far-off future we will fully discuss in a coming book, is the great chasm between the 21st century Information Age society we live in and the 20th century Industrial Age bureaucratic government model we’re saddled with. It’s the divide which presents the average American with the ability to watch any episode of Hell On Wheels or Orange Is The New Black in creation at the touch of a few buttons on one hand, and waiting an hour at the DMV or a month for other services from the government on the other.

No surprise that the reaction to this divide is dissatisfaction

Still scarred by a recession that ended five years ago, Americans are registering record levels of anxiety about the opportunities available to younger generations and are pessimistic about the nation’s long-term prospects, directing their blame at elected leaders in Washington.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that despite the steady pace of hiring in recent months, 76% of adults lack confidence that their children’s generation will have a better life than they do—an all-time high. Some 71% of adults think the country is on the wrong track, a leap of 8 points from a June survey, and 60% believe the U.S. is in a state of decline.

What’s more, seven in 10 adults blamed the malaise more on Washington leaders than on any deeper economic trends, and 79% expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the American political system.

Erick Erickson at RedState had an interesting take on this

Very view pieces of commentary out of Washington these days mention voters or constituents except to note they are pissed off. Instead, we get articles about what the Chamber of Commerce wants, what unions want, what conservative groups want, etc. What about what the voters want?

Often, the press doesn’t know or understand. They misread the voters. They take their presumptions and shape poll questions on policy that don’t really reflect what the voters mean or want. They fail to nuance. Everything must be outsider vs. insider, red vs. blue, and Republican vs. Democrat. The “objective” commentary is incapable of anything but binary and therefore dumbs down reporting and view points.

On top of this all is something else. When the Circle of Jerks see that Washington is hated, they blame the dysfunction and think if only Washington worked efficiently, all would be well. The reality is that if Washington did not play as big a role in our lives and left us to our own devices, we would actually be well. Until Washington and the Circle of Jerks leave us the hell alone, we will find no improvement here. Washington is the problem. It must be reduced to reduce the problem.

But the press corps, above all biases, is biased in favor of government doing something. Shrinking, to them, is not doing something.

He’s framing the issue around the size of the federal government, which is certainly a big piece of the problem. A leviathan bureaucracy in which useless, clock-watching flunkies in government offices spend their time watching porn rather than doing anything productive is one which poses a danger to freedom – the exposure of the problem is less likely to generate a government with fewer clock-watchers than it is to create more work to fill up their time. More work for government bureaucrats means less freedom for regular folks.

The answer is to wipe out entire agencies and programs at the federal level, or at least move them down to state governments which must balance their budgets. The answer is less government and more society – because society can adapt to serve its needs more than government can.

That’s the problem for Republicans – they’re not offering substantial change along those lines. They’re still in the 20th century mode – engaging in the same special-interest politics and assuming the same governmental framework they’ve always worked within. That’s an obsolete political model, and it’s also one which favors the Democrats. Which is why, according to the pollsters, there isn’t the wave election there should be.

With the midterm elections less than three months away, the NBC/WSJ poll finds 44 percent of voters preferring a GOP-controlled Congress, and 43 percent preferring a Democratic-controlled one.

The good news for Republicans, according to GOP pollster McInturff: An incumbent president in the low 40s and seven-in-10 Americans thinking the country is on the wrong track is typically good for the opposition party.

The not-so good news for the GOP: High interest in the elections is down from past midterm elections. And Republicans continue to trail among women by double digits.

November, McInturff says, is shaping up to be “a good Republican cycle, but not like the wave elections we saw in ’06 or ’10.”

The guess here is McInturff is probably wrong and the Republicans will take over the Senate. But they’ll do it in a series of close elections and not in a manner making it clear that the political calculus has changed.

In other words, a majority that might well fail to survive the 2016 elections, when a lot of Republican seats come up. And no particular sea change in American politics.

Because voters aren’t interested in Bush Republicanism or the US Chamber of Commerce, and they’re also not interested in the boilerplate hyper-combative language of the Tea Party. They want something new.

The first party which shifts its focus toward transforming government into something demonstrably smaller, less coercive and individually-centered – as in maximum school choice, maximum health insurance options and availability, maximum flexibility in retirement savings as opposed to the current Social Security model, breaking the monopoly of the welfare state in providing social services – that party will own the 21st century.

It’s going to have to be the Republicans. The Democrats are too wedded to 20th century politics and economics to embrace the new paradigm. But you’re not going to cross that divide with old-school GOP candidates like Thad Cochran and Pat Roberts, who barely squeak past mediocre – at best – primary challengers.

Our great political shift is coming, and it could be great for the GOP. But the party simply is not prepared to take control of its destiny at present, as this poll shows.

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