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Washington: Deaf to the Will of the People

Washington: Deaf to the Will of the People

Dr. Gallup had a simple mission: "If democracy is supposed to be based on the will of the people, someone should find out what that will is."

His concern was this: If there isn't a systematic way to gauge the biggest problems facing the American people, then we run the risk of having leaders on the wrong page, making the wrong assumptions, creating the wrong policies, and thus making the country worse off. Dr. Gallup understood that if what the American people want is different from what their leaders want, this could ruin our democracy, our country, and subsequently global human development.

His concern is as relevant today as it's ever been. All we seem to hear from Washington leadership right now are debates over immigration, the minimum wage, the environment, and healthcare. That's where our leaders are spending their precious time and energy. Yet we're hearing nothing about strategies for creating badly needed new, good jobs -- which is exactly what the American people are most worried about.

Americans recently told Gallup that unemployment/jobs and the economy in general are the most important problems facing the country (43% of respondents combined). Healthcare -- which we seem to hear about all the time -- came in at 15%. Immigration, another issue that seems to consume the president and Congress, was way down on the list -- only 6% in the U.S. cited it as the country's top problem. In an earlier poll, relatively few Americans mentioned raising minimum wage as the best way to fix the U.S. economy, and the environment didn't even make the list.

We are exactly where Dr. Gallup feared we'd be. There's a sprawling and alarming gap between the will of the people and the focus of their leadership. The will of the American people is to have a good job. I guess our leaders don't know that.

Right now, 75% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. Is anyone surprised?


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