The founding document of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, states that governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed." Today, however, just 21% of voters nationwide believe that the federal government enjoys the consent of the governed.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% disagree and say the government does not have the necessary consent. Eighteen percent (18%) of voters are not sure.
However, 63% of the Political Class think the government has the consent of the governed, but only six percent (6%) of those with Mainstream views agree.
Seventy-one percent (71%) of all voters now view the federal government as a special interest group, and 70% believe that the government and big business typically work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.
That helps explain why 75% of voters are angry at the policies of the federal government, and 63% say it would be better for the country if most members of Congress are defeated this November. Just 27% believe their own representative in Congress is the best person for the job.
Among voters under 40, 25% believe government has the consent of the governed. That compares to 19% of those ages 50 to 64 and 16% of the nation's senior citizens.
Those who earn more than $100,000 a year are more narrowly divided on the question, but those with lower incomes overwhelming reject the notion that today's government has the consent from which to derive its just authority. Those with the lowest incomes are the most skeptical.
Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Republicans say the government does not have the consent of the governed, and that view is shared by 65% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties. A plurality of Democrats (44%) agrees, but 32% of those in President Obama's party believe the government has the necessary consent.
From an ideological perspective, most moderate and conservative voters say the government lacks the consent of the governed. Liberals are evenly divided.
In his new book, In Search of Self-Governance, Scott Rasmussen observes that the American people are "united in the belief that our political system is broken, that politicians are corrupt, and that neither major political party has the answers." He adds that "the gap between Americans who want to govern themselves and the politicians who want to rule over them may be as big today as the gap between the colonies and England during the 18th century."
The book has earned positive reviews from Larry Sabato, Pat Caddell, Bill Kristol, Joe Trippi and others. In Search of Self-Governance is available from Rasmussen Reports and at Amazon.com.
Sixty percent (60%) of voters think that neither Republican political leaders nor Democratic political leaders have a good understanding of what is needed today. Thirty-five percent (35%) say Republicans and Democrats are so much alike that an entirely new political party is needed to represent the American people.
Nearly half of all voters believe that people randomly selected from the phone book could do as good a job as the current Congress.
Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.
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Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.