Democrats are skeptical of government. Republicans want a Daddy.
An interesting finding is that Democrats and Independents are pretty consistently skeptical of government no matter who’s in the White House — but Republicans trust government far more than any other group when Republicans are in charge.
In fact, the poll shows that Democratic trust in government hasn't risen above 34% since the Nixon/Ford era. It had been at 72%, under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Independents also slid from Kennedy/Johnson heights, with a peak of 38% during Reagan, and nothing above 30%, since. In other words, Democrats and Independents are deeply skeptical of government, no matter who is in office. The big government liberal canard is exposed. Many of we Democrats don't really care whether government is big or small, we just want it to be effective and responsible.
Republicans, on the other hand, are wholly partisan in their trust of government. Their trust also slid from Kennedy/Johnson highs, but under Democrats, the numbers were uniformly low: 27% for Carter, 25% for Clinton, and only 12% for Obama. No doubt, their feelings about government under Obama are wholly attributable to his centrist stands on the issues, rather than his being a Communist Nazi from Kenya.
But those supposedly government-hating Republicans sure do have a different feeling when their own party controls the White House. Under Reagan, 54% approved of government. Under Poppy Bush, that number dropped to 44%, which is still a full ten percent higher than Democrats trusted any government since Watergate. Under W, 50% of Republicans trusted government.
Blue Texan rhetorically asks what's going on. His answer:
One, Republicans are simply more authoritarian than Democrats. For all their talk about individual liberty and personal freedom, they’re ready and eager to goose-step behind whatever Republican Daddy figure that comes along. Think back at the cottage industry of sickeningly fawning books about Bush during his first term and you get the picture. This is why right-wingers saw black helicopters in the skies when Clinton was President, but cheered on every egregious executive overreach — from domestic spying to torture — when Bush was at the helm.
For all the blather about individual responsibility, Democrats and Independents seem to like to think for themselves. Republicans seem to like to fall in line.
It’s also pretty self-evident from these results that a Democratic President trying to appeal to Republican (or Teabagger) voters is completely wasting his time. So Barack Obama can escalate in Afghanistan and cut taxes and he’s still considered a communist pacifist by the right.
It's time for Democrats to forget about Republicans. They're an increasingly marginal demographic, their base is largely hypocritical and irrational, and their elected officials rarely have the integrity to compromise or negotiate in good faith.
Democrats and Independents are skeptical of government. As we should be. It doesn't matter who is in office. We want results. If Democratic office holders focus on producing results, everyone will win. Democrats will win on the policies and the politics. Independents will win on the policies, and that will make them appreciate the politics. Republicans will win on the policies, but they still won't like the politics. Improvements in their own lives will come despite themselves, and they'll still complain about it.