Big Government Is Public Enemy #1: Poll

Two thirds of Americans believe that big government is a bigger problem than big business or big labor.

A Gallup poll recently showed that a substantial majority of Americans think big government is a threat. According to the Gallup organization,

As businessman Donald Trump prepares to become the nation’s 45th president, Americans continue to express more concern about the threat big government poses to the U.S. than big business or big labor. Two in three Americans (67%) identify big government as the country’s biggest threat. That is below the record high of 72% in 2013 but still on the higher end of the range since the mid-1960s.

Meanwhile, the 26% of Americans who name big business as the biggest threat remains down from 32% in 2009 amid the economic recession, but it is near the average since 1965. Just 5% say big labor is the biggest threat. This is about half the level recorded a decade ago and far lower than in the 1960s and 1970s, when it typically ranked second among the three threats.

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Americans have consistently been more concerned about big government than big business and big labor since Gallup first asked this question in 1965. This concern peaked in 2013, the year healthcare exchanges opened under the Affordable Care Act and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed information about government spying tactics. However, concern about big government has declined slightly since.

This puts in perspective reports of Bernie Sanders’ sweeping popularity. While Sanders appealed to many Democrats and some Independents, he simply could not have the support of a majority of Americans (which doesn’t prove he couldn’t have won an election but it is still significant. In fact, even a majority of Democrats see big government as the greatest threat.


This fact may explain why many Democrats did not show up at the polling places to vote for Hillary Clinton. Though they are Democrats (for some reason) they don’t actually favor big government.

Economic blogger Mike (“Mish”) Shedlock notes that Gallup’s findings are also surprising in the context of the election victory of Donald Trump. In his headline, he states that people are against big government “despite Trump win.” It is true that Trump’s protectionism and advocacy of infrastructure spending count as “big government.” But Trump was far better than Clinton! As Mish writes,

Add “fear of big government” and rightly so, to the list of reasons people voted for Trump.

Hillary’s “big government”, “big labor”, and “big war” policies would have been a guaranteed disaster for the US.

Trump’s trade ideas often involve rejecting the authority of transnational bureaucracies. That is arguably another form of opposition to big government.

As Trump has announced his cabinet picks, the media and Democrats have often reacted in horror on the grounds that the heads of departments are opposed to those departments. He wants Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy when Perry famously suggested abolishing it. He picked a public school critic to head the Department of Education and a climate change skeptic to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

The fact is that Donald Trump has done more to combat big government than any Republican President before him, including Ronald Reagan.

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