A Very American Turn
Is there a wisdom emanating from the great mass of Americans — a common sense?
A new USA Today/Bipartisan Policy Center poll found that Americans still possess a strong civic-mindedness, but are souring on government and politics: “Americans by more than 2-1 say the best way to make positive changes in society is through volunteer organizations and charities, not by being active in government.” This is even more true of younger people than older folks, like me.
And yet, despite the distaste increasing numbers of Americans have towards their governments, they aren’t turning against service. They’re just switching from the realm of the State to the realm of communities and non-profits.
This seems entirely rational, a welcome development. Rational, in that, yes, of course today’s big government politics is poisonous. And government doesn’t work the way people dream it might. It’s not magic. And there are sharp diminishing returns. That’s why the political realm works best when distinctly constrained.
That is, the best governments govern least, when limitations — constitutional checks and balances, a rule of law, term limits, etc. — are placed upon its operations.
Now, there’s no real magic in the non-profit sector, either. It’s not as easy to give effectively as it is garner donations from the sympathetic. But, more good news, the charitable sector may be on the brink of a major revolution, too.
While hordes of well-meaning folks turning off of politics may cede ground to the politically unsound, better, younger, and more enthusiastic (and even ambitious) folks entering the voluntary sector has to be a good thing.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.