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Public Fears of Big Government Near All-Time High

The most recent Gallup Poll is an encouraging one for conservatives. When asked which of the following will be the biggest threat to the country in the future – big business, big labor, or big government – those surveyed responded this way: 64 percent of said big government, 26 percent said big business, and eight percent said big labor.

Gallup’s analysis points out that the portion of Americans who say big government will be the biggest threat to the country is just one percentage point shy of the record high — while the 26 percent who say big business is down from the 32 percent recorded during the recession. Moreover, Democrats – by a 48 percent v. 44 percent margin – say big government is more of a threat than big business. Sixty-four percent of independents, and 82 percent of Republicans, worry more about big government.

Given the ferocious assault against business, led by the president, these numbers are somewhat surprising. They re-confirm, I think, that this remains a center-right nation, one instinctively committed to limited government and the free market. And that commitment has only deepened during the Obama Era. We’re seeing confidence in government decline to near-record levels, and concern for big government grow to near-record levels, during a period in which liberals have been politically dominant and had their way.

They probably don’t appreciate the irony.

In any event, the Gallup Survey is reason to wonder about the wisdom of the president’s re-election strategy. It’s not simply that he runs government like a “big government liberal;” it’s that more and more he’s sounding like one. That is a dramatic break with his approach in 2008. Mr. Obama’s obsession with class divisions, income inequality, and millionaires and billionaires may excite the left. It may even poll well from time to time. But it has never been a particularly effective election strategy for Democrats — and my guess is that it won’t be again, either.

Mr. Obama may be pursuing the only political strategy that’s available to him, given his wall-to-wall failures as president. But in the process he’s cutting against the American grain. Barack Obama wants to frame this election as one pitting two competing philosophies against each other. To which conservatives should say: Bring it on.