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New Poll Makes a Compelling Case for Stripping Power From the Federal Government and Returning It to the States

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Does this make the case for more federalism and focus on states with a weakened or nonexistent centralized government? If this story doesn’t further illustrate why the federal government needs to be scaled back, I don’t know what does.

I recently wrote a piece reporting on the fact that every single governor in the United States has a net positive approval rating according to the results of a Morning Consult survey. This means that a higher percentage of their constituents approve of their performance than those who disapprove.

The survey’s revelations are easy to explain: Blue states directly elect Democratic governors, while red states directly elect Republican governors. This means the politician who wins the gubernatorial elections reflects the policies and values espoused by most of the state’s population.

The same holds true for individual lawmakers in Congress. Republican voters tend to have a higher approval rating for Republican legislators as Democratic voters do for Democratic lawmakers.

What is interesting is how Americans feel about Congress overall. The most recent Gallup poll shows that in 2022, about 62 percent of respondents indicated they had “[n]ot very much” trust in the Senate and House, or “none at all.” Only 38 percent indicated they had a “fair amount” or “great deal” of trust in Congress. In fact, the last time a higher percentage of Americans indicated a “fair amount” or “great deal” of trust in our legislators was in 2007, when 50 percent answered in this fashion and 48 percent chose “[n]ot very much” or “none.”

It seems safe to say that most Americans do not have a favorable opinion of Congress. They haven’t for quite a while. But what about the presidency?

The most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that only 40 percent approve of President Joe Biden’s performance, while 54 percent disapprove. At the end of former President Donald Trump’s presidency, his approval rating was at 34 percent, while 62 percent disapproved.

The data seems to show that Americans have far more trust in their state governments than in the federal government. While some presidents have enjoyed net positive approval ratings when they left office over the past five decades, it is doubtful that Biden’s will be much better than Trump’s. The trend seems to show that the federal government’s popularity has eroded considerably since 1789, doesn’t it?

Given this information, it makes sense to suggest that the population could become more amenable to the idea of federalism and states’ rights. People are currently moving to states that better reflect their political beliefs. This is especially true of right-leaning individuals, many of whom are fleeing states like California and New York for redder pastures like Texas and Florida. Many, including myself, have suggested that this signifies the national divorce that many have predicted – and called for.

The political divisions are causing people to seek a change of scenery. But much of the division is caused by a factor that is going largely unnoticed: the size of the federal government. National politics has become such a divider mostly because they have become more important than they ever should have been. The government has grown so bloated, powerful, and intrusive that it can, and often is, wielded as a weapon against people based on politics. The revelations about the FBI are proof of this.

The crux of the matter is that if the federal government did not exist or was as small as possible, it would not matter nearly as much who controls it. People wouldn’t be hyper-fixated on national politics to the detriment of state and local issues. When folks are laser-focused on the presidency and Congress, they tend to ignore what the government closest to them is doing. This allows officials at these levels to engage in all kinds of corruption under our noses.

If anything, these numbers show that Americans should be pushing for federalism instead of allowing our “leaders” to continue expanding the power and scope of the federal government. Why would we support the expansion of a government that most of us hate? Both Republicans and Democrats have contributed to making the state more intrusive in our lives. Perhaps America will need to see just how irredeemably corrupt our federal government has become before they are willing to return power back to the states.

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