Mark Tapscott: Gulf widening between 'Political Class' and most Americans 

Judging by the latest survey data on American public opinion, Rudyard Kipling might as well have been talking about us when he said "never the twain shall meet" between the East of Britain's privileged ruling elite and the West of native subjects of her empire.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen regularly documents the yawning gulf between what he calls America's "Political Class" and the rest of us, whom he dubs "Mainstream America."

The Political Class dominates government, the mainstream media, corporate boardrooms, academia, nonprofit activism, and the faculty lounge. Theirs is a world of conceptual analyses, bureaucratic edicts and organization charts, elevated sensibilities, and the conventional wisdoms of political correctness.

The rest of us live and work in the real world, in Rasmussen's Mainstream America. That's the world of what if I lose my job; hurry, Mommy, I'm late for my soccer game; taxes keep going up and buying power is headed down; honey, your mother needs you to come over and fix her stove; the car won't start; and the thousand other challenges of daily life.

Not surprisingly, these two Americas agree on next to nothing. Take the most basic question about whether the country is headed in the right direction. Rasmussen found that 67 percent of the Political Class think America is headed the right way, but 84 percent of Mainstream America thinks things are horribly off track.

Big majorities of Mainstream America also think the Political Class couldn't care less about what regular folks think, and most mainstreamers are embarrassed by the behavior of the Political Class. Mainstream Americans think cutting government spending and reducing deficits are good for the economy, Political Class members think doing that will harm the economy.

That the gulf between these two Americas is growing wider is seen most disturbingly in Rasmussen's finding that less than a quarter of Mainstream America now believe the government has the consent of the governed. Washington has a profound credibility crisis.

That Rasmussen's results are far from unique or isolated is seen in the Gallup Poll's most recent finding that only 11 percent of those surveyed have confidence in Congress and only a third have confidence in the presidency.

So how do we explain these two Americas? Rasmussen says his data shows that "the American people don't want to be governed from the left, the right or the center. The American people want to govern themselves."

President Reagan understood this. In his first inaugural address, he reminded us that "from time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?"

Reagan in 1981 and Rasmussen in 2010 are pointing to the same fundamental truth: Our Political Class wants to govern Mainstream America, indeed thinks it's their right and privilege to tell the rest of us how to live because they think they are smarter than we are. But that attitude flies in the face of what America is and always has been about, though imperfectly so, to be sure.

That the Political Class' attitudes toward Mainstream America are corrosive and destructive is seen in Obamacare. It became law despite opposition from a clear majority of voters and only after President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress resorted to corrupt bargains and procedural abuses to force its passage.

Such attitudes are unsustainable in a democratic republic and will sooner or later get the Political Class tossed off the train for good.

Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's Copy Desk blog on

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