Americans are disenchanted with politics

Published 11:11 pm Friday, October 9, 2015

It’s really just our national bird — has been since 1782 — but the bald eagle has become the symbol of the United States. It’s a majestic creature — alert, dignified, poised and sharp-eyed, exuding the character and strength that has carried this country to world predominance over the last two centuries and change.
Based on some new poll results, however, Americans might be scraping off eagle logos and replacing them with images of Joe Btfsplk, the jinxed “Lil’ Abner” character perpetually followed by a black cloud; or A.A. Milne’s Eeyore, the droop-eared donkey with the pinned-on tail always looking at the bad side of everything.
The mood in the electorate, more than a year away from the 2016 presidential election, is cantankerous and sour.
Seventy-two percent of Americans responding to a Bloomberg Politics survey said the U.S. isn’t as great as it once was. About that many decried the growing gap between rich and poor. Two-thirds said the country is headed in the wrong direction. Nearly half believe the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world. Three-fourths described themselves as “disgusted” with politics, and close to 60 percent believe the system is so fouled up, it should be blown up and a new one devised.
Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed were willing to go outside the political ranks for a “genuine outsider” with management and leadership skills to be president. That figure was skewed by Republican responses — no surprise with Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina at the top of that race — but the fact that nearly a quarter of Democrats also were willing to go there probably has the political professionals, office-holders and consultants grimacing as well.
We’re not going to pump sunshine, because this crankiness seems entrenched. Barack Obama’s contentious presidency is winding down, but he isn’t acting like a lame duck.
Republicans are furious about that, but Democrats aren’t going to let them return to the White House without a tussle. This doesn’t have the appearance and scent now of an uplifting campaign, just wait until people actually start casting primary or caucus votes four months from now.
We’re also not going to wave the flag and Constitution or quote the Federalist Papers about our governmental and political systems. Partisan, contrasting visions for this country and cash haven’t dimmed their essential greatness, but is anyone willing to cool off, shut up and listen to reminders?
Like it or not, we elect our leaders via politics, although maybe there should be a new approach to the electoral process. We’ll just remind fed-up voters — and we understand their attitude — that delivering a message might feel good for a moment, but once a ballot is cast, pilfering Crash Davis’ line from “Bull Durham,” the moment’s over. The folks who are elected get to hang around a while.
A version of this editorial first appeared in The Gadsden Times.

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