Reviewed by Carter Clews
No one has his finger more firmly planted on the American people’s pulse than public opinion pollster Scott Rasmussen. His popular Rasmussen Reports have taking polling to a new level of accuracy, prompting Washington Examiner columnist Michael Barone to observe, “the best place to look for polls that are spot on is RasmussenReports.com.”
And now, Rasmussen has penned an incisive new book on what Americans really believe – and where they want their country to go – that promises to be a dark-horse bestseller. Short (only 76 pages from cover to cover); fact-filled, yet delightfully philosophical; both revealing and predictive; In Search of Self-Governance promises to be the type of provocative and compelling tome for the decade to come that The Third Wave and The Tipping Point were in decades past.
As with many of the seminal works that have spurred thought and spawned change, the theme of the book can be summed up in a single passage at its very inception: “The American people don’t want to be governed from the left, right, or center. The American people want to govern themselves.”
Simple, yet sublime, that unencumbered observation encompasses all that Rasmussen has learned as one of America’s top public opinion pollsters for more than ten years. It portends all that he recommends for those who wish to occupy positions of political power in the defining years of the 21st Century. And it sets the stage for a riveting discussion that will have readers often shaking their heads agreement – and occasionally shaking their fists in anger.
Rasmussen pulls no punches in placing the blame for much of the outrage that now manifests itself in the general populace. His polls have told him that a large majority of Americans do not like the direction in which the country is moving: away from individual freedom, towards collectivism; away from self-governance, towards government control. And his insights tell the reader who is to blame, pure and simple:
“In the click that revolves around Washington, DC, and Wall Street, our treasured heritage has been diminished almost beyond recognition. In that world, some see self-governance as little more than allowing voters to choose which of two politicians will rule over them. Others in that elite environment are even more brazen and see self-governance as a problem to be overcome”
“In these early days of the 21st Century, our system of self-governance is in trouble. We are in danger of becoming a nation where big business and big government work together against the rest of us. They write the rules, we pay the bills. And then they wonder why we get upset.”
Driving home his point, Rasmussen – in a tone belying the severity of its intent – condemns Bush and Obama for ignoring “overwhelming public consensus” to push through bailouts. He says the House of Representatives has become “the embodiment of the alliance between government and big business.” And he suggests that politicians want citizen involvement “about as much as mischievous teenagers want chaperones at a high school dance.”
He concludes, “We need to put the chaperones [in this case, the American people] back in charge.” And he then offers six specific recommendations for restraining Big Government and restoring self-governance. They are proposals guaranteed to resonate with a Washington-weary American people. Among them:
- “Require that all legislation be posted and available to the public in final form for a week or so before a vote.” This would be an end to last-minute legislative horse-trading, he posits. And it would make it more difficult to slip in pet projects. Tough to argue with that kind of reasoning.
- “Voters should have the right to approve all pay increases for legislators, governors, and Presidents.” And he goes a step further by saying that this approval should be on the same ballot as when the people vote for the politicians. That should increase turn out!
- “When the IRS sends back a refund or an acknowledgement of payment, it would provide a summary of the taxpayers’ total tax bill from all levels of government [including] federal income taxes, payroll taxes, state income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, gasoline taxes, taxes paid by the employer, and whatever else we pay taxes on.”
Plus, he adds, “All taxes, at any level, should require voter approval before implementation.”
Clearly, those are the kind of recommendations that could keep politicians up at night. And help other Americans sleep much better. As are his remaining proposals. And that’s why this pint-sized publication could well become the handbook for a revolution.
Keep in mind, Scott Rasmussen is a pollster. In fact, many consider him the prince of pollsters. So, while he may write from the bottom of his heart, he doesn’t write off the top of his head. His opinions – and more importantly, his proposals – are based on solid research and grounded in public opinion.
In short, he knows whereof he speaks. That’s why Scott Rasmussen’s In Search of Self-Governance could soon become for “right” thinking Americans what Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals has long been for the hard left. Check it out at Amazon. And chalk one up for “We the people.”
Carter Clews, Communications Director of Americans for Limited Government, is a guest Liberty Features Syndicated writer.