American Optimism at 36-Year Low

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Oct 26, 2010 5:57 PM
Gary Langer of ABC News analyzes poll results finding that public optimism in American government has fallen to a 36-year low.

Given the tidal wave of discontent predicted to sweep many Democrats -- believers in  big and powerful government -- out of office, this isn't a surprise.  It's just one more sign of the political possibilities for the GOP.

But it also points to a solemn responsibility for the winners of next week's races, whoever they are.  Americans are doubtful and discouraged (thanks, in no small part, to the arrogance and destructive policies we've been subjected to over the past two years). 

It signals a need for the political victors to behave first and foremost like statemen: People of principle, who are responsive to the expressed wishes of their constituents -- and who hold a deep and abiding love of country that, paradoxically, transcends partisanship while anchoring their firmest convictions about the proper role of government and the truth of American exceptionalism.

Should the GOP fail to restore the nation's confidence, the outlook is grim.  But with great challenge comes great opportunity -- and the chance to not just slow government's metastasis, but to roll it back, so that our best, freest days are ahead.