This news coincides with reports that the economy may well be starting to sputter and with the nation once again gripped by acts of terrorism. The results of this poll are stunningly ominous for our future as a nation that in any way will resemble what most of us have grown up knowing.
This is how we got there.
First, those who believe in free enterprise and hard work and happened to have control of much government in the first decade of this millennium overplayed their hand. They stretched our nation’s capacity to wage war, and refused to keep a watchful eye on Wall Street, banks and the Federal Reserve, while at the same time expanding domestic spending by the federal government. Their actions often enriched big industries with backdoor programs disguised as efforts to supply cheaper drugs to those on Medicare or cellphone access to the indigent.
When everything fell apart in late 2008, a crack in the door was opened for legitimate political candidates and leaders such as Barack Obama to begin uttering softened versions of sharing wealth with a neighbor or whomever.
President Obama meant what he said, and his comments were representative of what had become years of similar thought among many in the fields of public and private education, a world with which he had great familiarity.
This school of thought began in earnest during the boom years of Ronald Reagan, which are now cast in documentaries as years of excess and greed. Throughout the 1990s, this concept of wealth redistribution and “fairness to all” was quietly gathering support among academicians. This, even as a Democratic President Bill Clinton — who as recently as 2011 was openly questioning a mentality of taxing people in a down economy and never dared to consider the concept of wealth redistribution as a general philosophy — presided over years of great prosperity.
Just as the Americans were enjoying that prosperity, Alan Greenspan, then head of the Federal Reserve, uttered the famous phrase of “irrational exuberance,” and sure enough, by late 2000 the nation’s much vaulted “dot-com” economy came tumbling down. A year later, gruesome acts of terror pummeled the nation.
Throughout all of the flag-waving and anthem-singing so correctly responsive to the attacks on 9/11, those who believed that the years of Reagan were evil continued to teach their version of history to high school and college students across the nation. When Reagan passed away in 2004, not enough adult Americans had received this version of history to evoke the type of widespread disrespect that did his corollary in Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher just last week.
In fact, in 2004, no American president, Democrat or Republican, would have been given a pass by the American public to openly ignore Thatcher’s passing by sending low-level representatives to her funeral. But by 2013, President Obama was allowed to do just that.
Of course, the United States of 2013 is a much different place than it was just nine years ago. A young adult of 18 in 2004 is well into his or her life as a worker or welfare recipient. And the excesses of government-obsessed Democrats and Republicans and the ensuing economic implosion, combined with years of “education” of students espousing the evils of free enterprise, created an entire class of angry and resentful people. And the polling numbers increasingly reveal that fact. Those who are under the age of 40 are far more likely to favor wealth redistribution than over that age.
So now we sadly start potentially another cycle of unhappy and unsettling times. A true idiot mails poison to a U.S. senator and our president — something all Americans should abhor. And then deadly and vicious terrorism strikes, taking literally life and limb and ripping at the very heart of what liberty we have left.
And the markets react. And the uncertainty grows. And the teaching of “shared wealth” and the revised and twisted history of the 1980s to a next generation continues. Imagine the results of this same poll in five years.
Matt Towery heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage.