All Politicians Are Unpopular—So Strip Away Their Power

It will undoubtedly be another turbulent year for politics. As such, I would like to commend Washington leaders for unifying our divided country around one proposition: “We don’t like”

Unpopular is President Joe Biden. Donald Trump was the ex-President of the USA. The unpopularity of Congressional leadership is evident. A Gallup poll also shows that Congressional leaders are unpopular. SurveyOnly 39% of Americans trust the federal government with their problems. This is compared to the “great deal” and “fair amount” that the other 49% have. Concerning Congress, Americans say their confidence is “very low” to “none.”

American society has a long history of healthy doubt about politicians’ pretensions and federal power. However, we now face a very unhealthy form of cynicism. It’s toxic. It’s toxic. We have recently endured some inept, unctuous leaders. But the real problem is institutions and not individuals.

We have allowed political parties to take too much power away from communities, states and localities. The nation’s capital has attracted that power and, coincidentally the media attention it attracts. This trend was made possible by the rapid rise in media consumption. The only way to make a political career is through viral tweets or cable news clips. These are aimed at real believers and not building coalitions, serving constituents, nor enacting lasting policy reforms.

Washington, in short, has become too big to handle. Is it possible to have a brighter future with Washington? No. The thing can’t even walk. It won’t notice a difference if you swap out your blue pants for your red ones, or vice versa.

Tony Woodlief (executive vice president, State Policy Network), of which I am also a board member offers a new solution: Cut the federal waistline. This is his new fascinating book. “I, Citizen”: The blueprint for reclaiming American self-governmentWoodlief says that America’s capital is now “an imperial place.” These conquests not only destroyed America’s constitution but have also made unnecessary enemies of those citizens, who should be able, even with their numerous disagreements, to live in peace and mutual respect.

Woodlief writes that “a decade-long ideological battle waged by political leaders in our names has punctured a reservoir of goodwill, which has characterized American civic lives for many generations.” In parallel, the centralization of power has led to the erosion of authority by our elected legislatures. This has resulted in a reduction of control over our government.

Woodlief may be blaming only elected officials, but that is a mistake. He refers to journalists, who devote their attention more to conciliators than clowns. This includes pollsters that construct either-or questions in order to create artificially rigid measures for polarization. Consultants, activists, and others from the private sector are included in this group. They prefer to keep their game in Washington, rather than engage with us in real, strong, and inherently messy communities throughout our country, where most of our lives revolve around pursuing our visions of the American Dream.

Woodlief’s book does not conclude with the standard wonky list of policies that “solves” the problem. Woodlief is supportive of some federal institutional reforms, including strengthening the Government Accountability Office. But he thinks that it’s much more important to strengthen state governments and local governments as well as civic associations and families to be able to resist federal interference and allow Americans to enjoy true citizenship close to home.

This is a positive message to a nation that remains, at its heart, hopeful. Woodlief concluded that “We aren’t broken”, and “the political classes are.” They are at war. We’re not at war.