Abraham Lincoln summed up American politics over 150 years ago that is as accurate and relevant today as it was then: “In this age, and in this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions.”
Our current political leadership is out of touch with public sentiment.
The “anti-this” or “anti-that” hypotheses just capture part of the picture.
A political leader needs to know who we are as well as who we are not. Americans are not getting leadership today that is delivering a vision that captures their sense of what this country is about.
Recent polling by Rasmussen shows the percentage saying they “strongly disapprove” of President Obama’s performance 22 points higher than those who “strongly approve”. The worst showing yet of his presidency. Shortly after he was elected, those recording “strongly approve” was thirty points higher than strongly disapprove.
Polling on the health care bill that Democrats pushed through against public sentiment remains negative. And latest polling shows voters expressing more confidence in Republicans than Democrats in dealing with terrorism, immigration, the deficit, and the economy.
But what about overall vision?
Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, knows something about the American people. Tapping into his sense of who Americans are and what they want, he built Fox into the nation’s top cable network.
In the most recent tracking poll on health reform done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more said they’ve gotten their information on health reform from cable TV than any other news medium, and among the cable TV sources, Fox finished first.
In an interview done with Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution several months ago, Ailes offered observations about what is going on in the country.
Regarding our president, Ailes noted that he is “underexposed” and “overexposed”.
He’s “underexposed” in that when he ran he said his administration would be transparent, and it’s not.
At the same time, he’s overexposed. He’s on TV all the time. Yet, he’s not succeeded, in the words of Lincoln, in “molding public sentiment.”