Voters divided over role of government
In some ways, this Gallup survey is encouraging; more people think government's role in American society should be limited, although the degree it should be limited is open to interpretation.
But after 6 years of Obama, the number of Americans who think the government should be more activist is very close to the mid-line and almost as many who believe government is overreaching.
When it comes to the role the federal government should play in the lives of the citizenry, Americans are divided, with 35 percent saying they’re opposed to a more active and involved government and 32 percent saying they’re in favor, according to a new Gallup poll.
The survey, which was conducted from Sept. 4-7, 2014, shows that the divide in opinion is pretty evenly split, with the remaining one-third falling somewhere in the middle.
From the Gallup report:
Gallup has asked this question four times since 2010, and each time, Americans have divided themselves roughly into thirds favoring a more active government, a less active government, or something in between. This division is especially noteworthy because the government's role in solving the nation's problems has been arguably more salient in recent years during the housing crisis, financial crisis, economic recession, and passage of the Affordable Care Act
Consistent with their respective parties' platforms, a majority of Democrats favor a more active government, while a majority of Republicans favor a more limited government. But party supporters are not entirely consistent with the approach to governing that the elected leaders from their party usually take. Substantial percentages of each party's supporters — 38% of Democrats and 26% of Republicans — place themselves in the middle on the 5-point scale. And one in six Republicans say they favor a more active government, while one in 10 Democrats favor a less active one.
The party breakdown of those who want the federal government to take a more active role and those who want the government to stay limited is not at all surprising:
Gallup also notes that "Fifty-four percent of Americans say that the “trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses,” while 41 percent maintain that the federal government should "do more to solve our country's problems."
The younger generation is sending mixed signals; more libertarian on social issues, suspicious of government in general and especially when it comes to snooping, but more supportive of activist government. Will they become more conservative as they get older? They will have to be shown, like the generation that came of age in the 1980's, that free market capitalism is a better option than socialism.