A Gallup survey released this afternoon suggests that Republicans may have found an issue -- finally -- they can run on.
Asked whether "big government", "big labor" or "big business" posed the biggest threat to the future of the country, 55 percent said "big government" while 32 percent chose "big business" and 10 percent opted for "big labor".
Those numbers are basically unchanged from a December 2008 Gallup poll (53 percent government, 31 percent business, 11 percent labor) although in December 2006 more than six in ten Americans believed government was the biggest threat to the country's future.
I suspect many people just repeat the ear worms they've heard for decades when asked these questions. Three decades of propaganda have so inculcated the anti "big government" theme in their minds that they just accept it without thinking. The true conservatives among those asked really believe it, of course, but the Independents and Democrats who answered that way probably don't buy into the implications of that statement.
Nonetheless, this shows that the Democrats and liberals continue to fail to provide an alternative vision which shows government being the necessary, democratic mediator and regulator of the various interests in American society on behalf of the common good. If the economy briskly recovers perhaps that understanding will happen spontaneously. But if it doesn't -- or if the Republicans are somehow able to successfully spin the recovery as a triumph of the free market -- then Democrats will regret failing to make these arguments explicitly and the Republicans will take advantage.
I guess Democrats are so gun shy at being called socialists that they can't even bring themselves to make a philosophical argument on behalf of government and put business into its proper perspective in our democratic capitalist system. That's a terrible weakness and a big missed opportunity. Let's hope the Republicans continue to behave like fools and that the economy begins to recover or we will all come to regret that they failed to take it.