Scott Rasmussen, the pollster, has published a new quick read, In Search of Self-Governance. He recently talked about what he means by the title and what he thinks the title means for American politics with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Is your book title meant to validate my worst fears about Obamacare? Are we no longer self-governed?
SCOTT RASMUSSEN: We haven’t lost yet, but the political class would like to keep moving in that direction.
Voters overwhelmingly opposed the bailouts when they were proposed by the Bush administration. They also opposed the extension of the bailouts beyond banks, the takeover of GM and Chrysler, and the health-care plan. But all were passed. And then they wonder why voters believe no one is listening.
LOPEZ: Is everyone in the D.C. “elite” jaded about democracy? Can you name some who aren’t?
RASMUSSEN: I am sure there are some, but that’s not my crowd, so I don’t know who they are.
LOPEZ: Is In Search of Self-Governance essentially about the tea-party movement?
RASMUSSEN: No. The tea-party movement is tapping into some of the concerns expressed in the book, but the desire for self-governance is as old as America.
LOPEZ: Since they’ve come up, what are you certain you know about the tea-party crowd?
RASMUSSEN: “Certain” is a strong word. I am certain that the tea-party movement is far more significant than the political class believes. I am certain that the tea-party movement cannot be defined precisely. And I am certain that the underlying attitudes driving the tea-party movement will drive American politics for a long time.
LOPEZ: Who is this “political class” you keep talking about? Who belongs to it? Is there something wrong with it?
RASMUSSEN: Membership in the political class is as fuzzy as membership in the tea party, but it generally consists of people who trust politicians more than they trust the general public and people who do not see the federal government as a special-interest group. There is nothing wrong with most people who get sucked into the political class, and many of them can be redeemed — just like Darth Vader eventually came back to the good guys.
I spoke on the self-governance theme recently to a business group. The person after me had a long and successful history in both D.C. and on Wall Street.
His first comment was, “The problem with self-governance is that people are so bad at it. They are just too stupid to govern themselves.” That’s a political-class attitude.