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Opinion: Morning Examiner

Morning Examiner: Obama is losing the war of ideas

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll,Morning Examiner,Barack Obama

Last week, President Obama delivered what analysts on both the left and right considered to be the most ideological case for expansive progressive governance in a generation. “I believe this is the most ‘progressive’ speech he’s ever given,” The Atlantic’s James Fallows approvingly tweeted. But are Americans listening? Is Obama convincing anyone?

Yes, Obama is a proven vote winner. His pop-culture rock star status motivated millions of young and minority voters to turn out and vote for him in two consecutive presidential elections. But while 51 percent of the 2008 electorate told exit pollsters that “Government should do more to solve problems” by 2012 that number had fallen to just 43 percent. In 2008, the percentage of voters who believed “Government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals” was just 43 percent. In 2012, that number rose to 51 percent. That is hardly a ringing endorsement for Obama’s progressive view of expansive government.

Now Pew has released a new study showing that American skepticism of the federal government is still growing. “As Barack Obama begins his second term in office, trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms,” Pew reports.

Republicans, of course, lead the nation in government skepticism (70 percent see the federal government as a threat to their right), but both Democrats and Independents are souring too. Just two years ago only 50 percent of Independents said they believed the federal government threatened their freedom. Today 55 percent do.

Obama is, and may always be, personally popular. Americans do love him. But his progressive ideas about government are clearly less widely accepted.

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