A recent spate of polls on a wide range of issues taken by some of our nation’s respected polling companies should raise concern over the direction of our country. The trend lines are alarming and reflect the desperate need for leadership to ‘right the ship.’
Here’s a snapshot of some of the polls that should raise red flags:
- A Monmouth poll says 88% of U.S. adults say our country is on the wrong track—a record low going back to 2013. An AP/NORC poll confirms this national dissatisfaction and says it’s bipartisan with 92% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats saying the country is moving the wrong way.
- A Gallup poll says Americans are less confident in major institutions than they were a year ago, with significant declines for most of the 16 institutions routinely measured. New lows in confidence are for the Supreme Court (25%), presidency (23%), and Congress (7%). These numbers represent an 11-point drop for the Supreme Court and 15 points for the presidency. It’s noteworthy this poll was taken before the court issued controversial rulings on gun laws and abortion.
- The military (64%) and small business (68%) are the only institutions where a majority of Americans expressed confidence.
- Five other institutions polled by Gallup are at their lowest points in at least three decades (repeat decades)—police (45%); organized religion (31%); newspapers (16%); criminal justice system (14%); and big business (14%).
- A Pew poll finds trust in the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (2%) or “most of the time” (19%) reflects a dramatic drop in faith in our government. In 1958 this number was 73%.
- In a recent Pew survey, 58% of adults say they are not satisfied with the way democracy is working in America. The vast majority (85%) said the U.S. political system either needs major changes or needs to be completely reformed. More than six-in-ten of those surveyed said they are not confident the system can change.
- In another Monmouth survey, only 36% of Americans believe our system of government is basically sound, a view that has declined significantly over the past few years. This compares to 40 years ago when 62% of Americans said our system was sound.
- Regarding education, Gallup says Americans lack confidence in public school education—28% saying they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the institution. Two years ago and pre-pandemic, the number was 41%.
- Gallup says 38% of adults are “extremely proud” to be American—an historical low by four points. Gallup says extreme pride in our country has been trending downward since 2015 and is nearly 20 points lower now than a decade ago.
- Gallup found 81% of Americans believe in God, the lowest in Gallup’s trend. The question was first asked in 1944 and twice in each of the 1950s and 1960s. In those last four surveys, 98% believed in God.
- A record high 50% of Americans rate the overall state of our moral values as “poor.” Another 37% say it is only “fair.” Gallup says just 1% think the state of moral values is “excellent.”
These numbers should come as no surprise. When one looks at the problems our country is facing, it’s no wonder Americans have responded the way they have to the polling—crime and violence; illegal immigration; inflation; a threat to democracy; and the threats to our country posed by China, Russia, Iran and North Korea—to cite just a few of the challenges.
During the G-7 meeting in Europe a few weeks ago, a Politico reporter spoke to a range of individuals—from prime ministers to rock stars and union leaders. The reporter said he heard a lot about the ending of the American era. The phrases he heard characterizing us were: “deep hole;” “they don’t know how to talk to each other anymore;” and “they know what to do, they just can’t bring themselves to do it.”
The Economist is blunter in its assessment of America and its leadership. In a recent cover story, the magazine says America’s “sickly politics” requires urgent care. The magazine says it will not come from the Republicans—at least for as long as they pander to their base by embracing Donald Trump. “The Democrats therefore rightly see themselves as the remaining guardians of America’s political system. And yet they have also fallen prey to their activists” with fringe and dotty ideas creeping into the Democratic rhetoric.
The article notes movements from the progressive left to “defund the police, abolish immigration enforcement, shun capitalism, label women as birthing people and inject ‘anti-racism’ into the classroom” will not help to heal and bring our nation together.
“If President Joe Biden wants to save the soul of the nation, he will have to start with the soul of his own party,” the magazine says.
Perhaps Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) says it best. In a recent essay, Romney laments Congress as being particularly disappointing. He says our elected officials put a finger in the wind more frequently than they show backbone against it. Too often he says, Washington demonstrates the maxim that for evil to thrive only requires good men to do nothing.
Mr. Romney also said when countries fail to confront serious challenges, it doesn’t end well. He says we need a president who can “rise above the din to unite us.”
Who is that individual? He or she is hopefully there—an individual with character and courage who can grab the mantle of LEADERSHIP our country so badly needs—a Kennedy or Reagan-type leader who can LEAD our country and heal it, putting party differences aside. In the meantime, Romney is correct in saying leadership must come from fathers and mothers, teachers, priests and rabbis, business leaders and journalists. This is no small task for any of us as we wait for a hero to emerge.
- Tom Jurkowsky is a retired Navy rear admiral who served on active duty for 31 years. He is the author of the book “The Secret Sauce for Organizational Success: Communications and Leadership on the Same Page.”