The following editorial appeared in The Orange County Register on Monday.
For the second year in a row, government was the largest problem facing the nation, according to Gallup polls. Based on Gallup's monthly polls of the most important issues facing the U.S., an average of 16 percent identified government as the top problem, followed by the economy with 13 percent and a tie between unemployment and immigration with 8 percent. It was highest immigration had ranked since 2007 (also third, with 9 percent).
The Iraq War dominated Americans' concerns from 2004-2007, while the economy took top billing during the recession and sluggish recovery from 2008-2013.
Government has increasingly come to be seen as a major problem during President Barack Obama's administration. In 2008, it did not rank in the top four issues at all, according to Gallup. But then it went from the fourth-biggest issue in 2009 and 2010 to the third-biggest in 2011 and 2012, to the second-biggest in 2013, before grabbing the top spot in 2014 and 2015.
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Unlike the last several presidential elections, there is no single dominant issue grabbing Americans' attention going into the election year. "This lack of a prominent public concern provides an interesting setup to the 2016 presidential election," Gallup notes. "This contrasts with the last three presidential election cycles when at least one issue commanded significant public attention in the year prior to the election. In 2011, for example, the dominant issues were the economy and unemployment; in 2007, the Iraq War; and in 2003, the economy."
To be sure, some of those pointing the finger at Obama or Congress probably did so because they believe that the government is not taking enough of our money or our liberties to sacrifice for their pet causes, not starting enough unnecessary wars or not trying to micromanage the economy sufficiently, in their eyes. But we take heart that there is a growing recognition that government is broken and not serving the interests of average citizens.
Whether the government, the economy, unemployment, foreign conflicts, health care, education or the environment, the cure to all these problems is more personal and economic freedom. We hope that Americans will remember that this is what made our nation so great, and hold their elected officials responsible for protecting this ideal in 2016 and beyond.