Inside the Beltway: Voters still wary of ‘government experts’

Ronald Reagan delivered some of the most pivotal statements in American history. Here’s one example from a news conference on Aug. 12, 1986:

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help,’” the 40th president said, specifically citing the woes of the farming community at that time.

“A great many of the current problems on the farms were caused by government imposed embargoes and inflation — not to mention the government’s long history of conflicting and haphazard policies,” Reagan continued.

Things appear haphazard some 35 years later, according to veteran pollster Scott Rasmussen, who has made a serious inquiry into the matter.

He asked 1,200 registered U.S. voters what should be done when government experts and intellectuals recommended a policy that voters strongly opposed. “Just 19% say that the government should follow the policy recommended by experts and intellectuals. Sixty-one percent (61%) took the opposite view. Why does this happen?” Mr. Rasmussen asked.

“Partly it’s because the elites and everyday Americans have different perceptions of how experts operate. The elitist perspective is that government experts are strictly guided by knowledge rather than by any personal agenda. In this self-serving view, the experts consider the facts and make the logical conclusion,” he said in his own analysis of the poll numbers.

“However, just 25% of voters believe government experts make policy recommendations based primarily on their professional expertise. A solid majority — 55% – believe the policy recommendations made by experts are based upon the experts’ own political preferences,” Mr. Rasmussen noted.

“I asked voters whether certain activities were a major threat to democracy in the United States. One of the options was ‘letting government bureaucrats set rules without approval of Congress or voters.’ Fifty-five percent (55%) said that practice was, in fact, a major threat. That view is shared by 73% of Republicans, 43% of Democrats, and 40% of independents,” he said.

THE GREAT WALL EXPERIMENT

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants a wall separating Texas and Mexico — and he is willing to tap into $850 million in his own state’s funds, and has invited the public to contribute to his cause. Mr. Abbott’s independent thinking could serve as a template for other state officials who might face a similar challenge.

How do Texas voters feel about such circumstances? A unique voter poll conducted by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler reveals much.

The survey found that 45% of Texans overall agree that a “wall along the Texas-Mexico border” is a safety necessity; that includes 74% of Republicans, 33% of independents and 33% of Democrats.

Another 43% support using Texas state funds to bill the project; 72% of Republicans, 28% of independents and 25% of Democrats agree.

The survey found that 30% plan to donate to Mr. Abbott’s fund to build the wall; that includes 48% of Republicans, 14% of independents and 25% of independents.

And one more finding: 46% of the respondents approve of the way the governor is handling immigration issues at the state’s southern border; 32% approve of President Biden’s job performance in the matter.

The poll of 1,090 registered U.S. voters was conducted June 22-29.

‘GOING THROUGH PUBERTY’

“Let’s admit that this past year’s trip around the sun was another head scratcher. But let’s also remember that we are babies, you know, as a country. We are basically going through puberty in comparison to other countries’ timeline, and we’re going to go through growing pains. We are going through growing pains. This is not an excuse — this is just a reality,” says actor Matthew McConaughey, currently eyeing a run for governor in the aforementioned great state of Texas.

Mr. McConaughey made his comments in a new online video. He also has the backing of 38% of all Texas voters, according to the aforementioned Dallas Morning News poll.

HELPFUL NEWS

The U.S. remains the global leader in the competitive cyber realm, according to a new “Cyber Capabilities and National Power: A Net Assessment” — a new report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“It is the only country with a heavy global footprint in both civil and military uses of cyberspace. The U.S. retains a clear superiority over all other countries,” said the report, which was released Friday.

“The U.S. capability for offensive cyber operations is probably more developed than that of any other country, although its full potential remains largely undemonstrated,” the report noted.

The analysis ranked the U.S. at No. 1 in the field, followed by China, Russia, Australia, Canada, France, Israel and Britain,

“Although China is in second place to the United States, the report says the nation’s cyber defenses ‘remain weak compared with those of the United States,’ and it needs to further develop its critical national infrastructure,” noted MeriTalk, a news organization focused on government IT issues.

“The report says the United States is set apart from other nations when it comes to offensive cyber due to ‘its ability to employ a sophisticated, surgical capability at scale.’ The United States also had the advantage of investing in cyber early and heavily, compared to countries such as China and Russia. Additionally, the U.S. benefits from close alliances with other cyber-capable states,” the publication said.

POLL DU JOUR

• 3% of U.S. adults say the American economy is in “excellent” shape: 1% of Republicans, 4% of independents and 4% of Democrats agree.

• 27% say the U.S. economy is “good”; 24% of Republicans, 20% of independents and 42% of Democrats agree.

• 38% say the economy is “fair”; 36% of Republicans, 41% of independents and 39% of Democrats agree.

• 27% say the economy is “poor”; 38% of Republicans, 31% of independents and 9% of Democrats agree.

• 5% “don’t know”; 1% of Republicans, 5% of independents and 6% of Democrats agree.

SOURCE: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted June 26-29.

• Helpful information to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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