American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has scaled down the list. Concerns over the economy have, as well.
For the past decade, these were the two most significant, long-standing issues garnering public concern in the U.S. They’ve been replaced, at least to some degree, by the increasingly exasperating vacuum of leadership that exists in Washington, D.C.
In a Gallup poll published on Jan. 2, Americans that were surveyed listed poor leadership in government as the most important and troubling issue in 2014, a noticeable shift in the answers given in the same poll over the past 10 years.
The dissatisfaction with government isn’t anything really new. However, it’s intriguing to note that as the economy shows signs of improvement and the U.S. looks to scale back operations in the Middle East, Americans are becoming more and more concerned about whether Congress, the president and even government in general can get anything done.
The U.S. clearly has serious challenges ahead of it, and while government never should be the ultimate problem solver, policy makers do have a vital role and responsibility in making sure the country stays on a steady path. Years of gridlock and inactivity in Washington, D.C., have rightfully shaken the confidence of Americans when it comes to fulfilling that duty. Both sides have been at fault. The mishandled rollout of the Affordable Care Act by President Barack Obama and his administration certainly contributed to confidence levels diminishing. The failures of the Veterans Administration and its inability to properly take care of American veterans was certainly an eye-opener. The uncovering of the NSA’s secretive and dubious surveillance of Americans had to add to that slippage, as well.
Obviously, however, polls such as these are just a snapshot of the moment. The upcoming term in Congress should offer a number of chances to at least partially restore some of that faith in government.
Additionally, the positive economic news of the year’s end — with job growth, lower gas prices and a strong stock market — thankfully show that it’s not all doom and gloom ahead of us. Moving forward, however, there has to be some type of bipartisan movement among federal lawmakers for confidence in government to start to trickle upwards. Let’s hope there’s a healthy appetite for consensus and progress on the part of national leadership in the year ahead. Otherwise, the chance at a rosier future for the U.S. turns bleaker and even more troubling.
— Aiken (South Carolina) Standard,