• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Thinking doesn't make it so

I wish I could believe this:

In a poll conducted last year, Samples and Ekins replicated a series of questions on what level of government should make “the major decisions” on various issues, that were first asked in a 1973 Harris poll. With the exception of national defense (where there has been no statistically significant change), there has been a substantial increase in preference for state and local control relative to federal.

On several important issues, majority opinion has actually flipped over the last forty years, shifting from a majority in favor of federal dominance to a majority against it. For example, the percentage of Americans who believe that state or local government should make the major decisions on drug policy has increased from 39% in 1973 to 61% in 2013. On health care, it has risen from 40% to 62%; on environmental protection, it has gone from 36% to 56%. On prison reform, the proportion supporting state and local primacy has increased from 43% to 68%.

Even if it's true, I'm not sure it means anything. On most issue, a tipping point is reached when public opinion has changed so much that action is almost guaranteed. This happened, for example, when a majority turned against smoking in public. It's just happend on the acceptance of gay marriage.

But when it comes to wresting control from the federal government, I don't think a substantial majority believing in it will cause anything. People are going to have to actually do something (vote for an Article V convention, for example, or start giving up on federal money and the strings attached), and even then success is unlikely.

Am I being too direly pessimistic here? The author of the linked article thinks "increased decentralization" is "more politically feasible than in the recent past." I think that's a crock.