Think of all the troubles in the world. Climate change. Student debt. Terrorism. Job insecurity. What’s the number one most mentioned problem, according to a recent Gallup poll? Government itself. Thirty-five percent of Americans put that concern above all others. It’s a record number, according to the pollsters who have been tracking this since 2001.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that government is getting worse. It suggests instead a kind of rising consciousness about a problem that has been there all along, from Woodrow Wilson to Donald Trump.
Government is the least effective way to solve any social problem. It overrides the capacity of people to deal with their lives and problems in a way that is manageable and adaptable. It creates bureaucracies instead of solutions, wastes resources while everyone else is trying to conserve them, and entrenches rules that do not pertain in a world of fast-paced technological development.
What these two years of political wrangling have shown us is something that will be unavoidable in the coming years. There will never be unified government, operating with a single goal, whether that proposed goal is a restoration of nationalism or the elimination of fossil fuels supposedly to save the planet. The vast gulf that separates the two parties, with extremes driving the ideological debate on either side, is what government now has to offer us. Which is to say: more division, more vituperation, more politics of dogs eating dogs.