Issues & Insights

The Pandemic Gave Americans A Taste Of Government ‘Help’ And They Didn’t Like It

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It’s fair to say Americans, especially the pre-revolution colonists, have always had a healthy skepticism of government. What’s frightening is some days we seem dangerously close to losing the unique quality that separates this country from every other.

The Washington Examiner’s Byron York posted last week in his Daily Memo some interesting data that tells us a lot about Americans’ attitudes about their government. He tracked a long-term Fox News survey in which respondents are asked which message they would send the government if they had the chance: “lend me a hand” or “leave me alone.”

Over the course of the last decade, only in August 2020 did a majority (57%) say it would ask for government help. In that same poll, 36% said “leave me alone.”

This year, however, the numbers were flipped – 47% said “leave me alone” while 44% still wanted aid.

In some years, the results showed a strong distrust of government. For instance, in 2014, 59% wanted to be free of the state while a mere 32% wished for help. In February 2016, the beginning of the last year of the Obama era, the numbers were 54-39 in favor of the “leave me alone” group.

But what is truly striking are the results from the last two surveys. After a large majority of Americans wanted the government to step in last year, no doubt due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was a fairly significant shift back this year to a yearning for independence.

Why? There can be no doubt Americans were lent a hand in 2020 and 2021, and they got it good and hard, to borrow a portion of one of American journalist Henry Louis Mencken’s more famous comments. Politicians panicked, petty tyrants exercised unearned authority, and this country suffered in ways few could have ever imagined.

Meanwhile, government “experts” lied, obfuscated, and contradicted themselves. As early as January of this year, long before the Delta variant set off another round of mask mandates and spiteful threats of more lockdowns, the Edelman Trust Barometer found that 57% of the country believed “government leaders” were “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”

Watching this unfold over the course of more than a year, Americans became fed up with government’s incompetence, fearmongering, failures, and inclination to rob us of our liberties. The pandemic responses from elected and unelected officials across the country uncovered an uncomfortable fact much of the political class has wanted to keep hidden: Governments are not made up of angels, but of flawed men and women, many following personal and political agendas, and still more who are simply unfit to be in any position of authority.

An open-eyed distrust in government is a virtue, nothing to be alarmed by. We need more of it. It’s the only way to stop the march of government from running over us like a tank rolling through Tiananmen Square.

Unfortunately, the public’s reservations about government have been largely absent in Washington as the Biden administration spends the country into a high-tax, inflationary pit. Voters need to remember their American heritage of self-reliance and deep suspicion of big government and do something about that next year and in 2024.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.

4 comments

  • “Voters need to remember their American heritage of self-reliance and deep suspicion of big government and do something about that next year and in 2024.” I&I

    Big totalitarian socialist-oriented government in the USA is one step ahead of you in the ballot box stuffing and vote rigging game, I&I. In California they came up with a new wrinkle to make ballot harvesting easier and more efficient –universal do-it-yourself (DIY) print and mail in your own ballots. This is in addition to mailing ballots to every registered voter (dead or alive, in state or out, real or imaginary, etc.). DIY ballots should effectively make it impossible to distinguish a counterfeit ballot from a real ballot, and foil pesky audit attempts like in Arizona. For ballot harvesters, all that is necessary is to buy a ream of paper and fire up the old inkjet to print identical filled out (in advance with the “correct” party choices) ballots. Then get out the operatives (paid or volunteer) to nursing homes, homeless encampments, prisons, schools, mostly-peaceful street protests, parks, wherever people gather, and get some signatures. Perhaps in exchange for a little cash or drugs, perhaps not. Just in time to throw a little confusion into the Numbskull Governor’s California recall election that looks too close to call. Finally, California can catch up with Pennsylvania and other states that counted 200,000 more votes than registered voters. California voter envelopes remind voters that it is illegal to vote twice. But you can get away with voting 50 times or 150 times or 1,550 times with DIY ballots, and be richly rewarded by the party in multiple ways. I suspect nursing home residents will get so many paid ballot harvesters that they will vote multiple times, as many times as there are ballot harvesters showing up. If not swinging the election in the desired direction, at the very least there is the potential to create enough confusion to thwart the recall by keeping the final results in doubt until the governor’s term is up and the recall becomes moot. Time for some voter suppression (limiting the vote to legitimate voters).

  • It’s true that Americans didn’t like the “taste” of government “help” we’ve had…and it doesn’t stop with their Covid absurdity. BUT we don’t seem to have a choice. They literally don’t care what we want or say…and we’ve proven that they can even steal an election and get away with it. So…we kind of lost our clout.

  • The sad and sobering fact is that BIG government always lies. Rarely have we ever been told the truth. The entire saga of the War in that Hell hole known as Afghanistan is a prime example. But, we can go back to WWI, WWII, The Vietnam War, the Korean War. All of them. The BIG government default position is to spin yarns and cover their ass(ets).

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