Of all the pre-election polls, punditry, analysis and forecasts, one stands out. It is a new CNN poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation that found an overwhelming number of Americans (78 percent) believes "our system of government is broken."
Democrats predictably blame Republicans for this as part of their strategy for returning to majority status in Congress. Just as predictably, Republicans blame Democrats for being "obstructionists" and not letting all that good legislation hatched by the GOP get through.
It isn't actually our "system" of government that is broken. The Constitution established an excellent system from which contemporary leaders regularly seem to depart. The Founders gave us the parchment equivalent of a GPS system that, if followed, gets us where we ought to go, but if ignored, causes us to become lost. No, the system has worked quite well until recently. Rather, it is the way Republicans, now, and Democrats when they last had the majority, have made a mess of it. The system is crumbling under the weight of too many expectations.
Members of both parties have asked government to do for them what they should first be doing for themselves. And instead of telling people about self-sufficiency, government has subsidized and encouraged self-indulgence. Instead of telling religious people - conservative Christians especially - that government can't do more for them than the God they claim to worship, both parties (Republicans more than Democrats, but Democrats are trying to catch up) have allowed, even encouraged, believers to think politicians can help build the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
Instead of government as a last resort, too many (Republicans included) turn to government as a first resource. Government was not designed to carry the burdens placed on it by the public, lawyers and lobbyists.
The Founders created a system of limited government. It is not functioning like one today because we now view government as unlimited. For many, faith in government is now stronger than faith in God, in practice, if not in theory. At least God tells us He loves us. Government never can. Our faith in government to rid the world of totalitarian regimes, while at the same time caring for children and grandparents whose welfare should be the first responsibility of their families, was always destined to disappoint. Democrats tell us if we return them to power things will be better. No they won't, because the problem isn't which party has a majority. It is far deeper than that.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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