Paul Jacob

Pollster Scott Rasmussen seems to understand this best. His Rasmussen Reports polling company constantly asks questions the establishment polling outfits don’t. For one, he breaks down his poll respondents into the “Political Class” and “Mainstream Americans.”

Now, I’m not certain the three-question test he uses to separate folks into these groups is the absolute best way to do so, but one doesn’t have to buy into Rasmussen’s specific criteria to see that his general conception is an interesting prism through which to view politics.

Last month, by Rasmussen’s criteria, 67 percent of people in the “Political Class” said the country is headed in the right direction, while 84 percent of so-called Mainstream Americans said we’re headed the wrong way. Other Rasmussen surveys show similar massive chasms between the views of the Political Class and Mainstream Americans.

On Friday, Rasmussen Reports released polling showing that 71 percent of Americans support requiring a national vote to approve any changes in Social Security passed by Congress. When it comes to raising taxes 61 percent of us want a tax hike approved by Congress to go to a national vote to be approved or rejected by the people, with 33 in opposition.

A national vote? Those who believe “representative government” to be a device to get the unwashed masses arms-length or further from deciding any issue of governance will bemoan such a vote as unworkable and dangerous. Those who believe representative government is all about the people actually being represented will have no dilemma with allowing the people to represent themselves at the ballot box.

On the issue of a national vote there is again a stark difference of opinion between the Political Class, who oppose a public vote on changes to Social Security (60%) or on raising taxes (73%), and Mainstream Americans, who support a vote on entitlement changes (78%) and tax increases (72%).

Rasmussen Reports is ahead of the game in another way, too. He’s been tracking the key political question of all: Does our government have the consent of the governed?

The answer in July was that 23 percent of us feel the government has that consent; 62 percent believe it does not. That’s actually an improvement from February, when only 21 percent felt the government possessed public consent.

Obviously, we don’t trust our government. Just as obviously, we shouldn’t. Our government must earn our trust. Politicians can start this process by trusting the wisdom and common sense of the people.

Last January, I suggested a three-issue commitment all candidates worthy of support should have no difficulty embracing: support for term limits, ballot initiative and referendum, and transparency. Political leaders capable of representing Mainstream Americans must (1) agree to hold power only temporarily, with a departure date certain, (2) serve us by establishing a process where “We the People” get to vote and trump the political elite, and (3) provide the public the information necessary to judge the decisions made by government.

We want our rulers to become our servants. It’s history’s rarest achievement.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.