Monday, February 22, 2010

Obama and Public Opinion

Public opinion polls play an important role in American politics. They provide a medium through which people can voice their opinions on any given political issue, including the job performance of the President of the United States. A president's standing in the polls, or approval rating, is closely monitored especially in an election year by the press, the public, and the Washington political community because of the close connection between public support of the president and the political fortunes of the democratic members of Congress up for re-election.

In order to be effective public opinion polls must be conducted correctly and provide statstical information that is accurate and understandable. Consumers of public opinion polls, including policymakers and voters, must have confidence in the information such polls present in order to be significant.

After reading the article linked below, do you think the polls mentioned in the article are accurate indicators of the public's approval of President Obama's job performance? Do you think these polls help or hinder our democratic process? Finally, what are your thoughts on Obama's declining approval ratings and this type of polling in general?

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Ghosts of Anti-Federalism

The first significant American political debate about the proper role of government between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists rages on! Back in 1787, Anti-Federalists were highly mistrustful of those who proposed the need for a strong central government with much greater responsibilities than was conceived by the Articles of Confederation. Not much has changed. Today, people are divided once again (and not necessarily along political party lines) about the proper role of government in their lives.

Since he took office one year ago, President Obama has lobbied heavily for government intervention in resolving some of the country's most hotly debated and most difficult issues. Some people have welcomed calls for government intervention into seemingly broken health care, finance, and environmental systems. Other people are convinced that such government intervention is nothing short of furthering a socialist agenda.

In his article linked below, Joseph Ellis, suggests that these difficult problems facing our country today can only be resolved if we view the government as "us"--"the chosen respresentative of our collective interests as a people and a nation" rather than "them"--intruders into our individual freedoms and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.

What do you think? After reading his article, do you agree or disagree with Ellis that the ghosts of Anti-Federalism must be laid to rest and people need to trust government to resolve the country's most difficult issues?