A new survey reveals that most Americans reject the idea that politics is “broken” and instead believe that the political system in the United States is being “abused” by bad actors as a prominent researcher is warning that the U.S. might soon face a “point of no return” if it does not change course quickly.
The Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University released the fifth installment of its America’s Values Study Thursday, documenting voters’ attitudes about the state of American politics. This survey was a collaboration between the Cultural Research Center and AmericasOne, which describes itself as “a group of values-driven professionals AmericasOne, which describes itself as “a group of values-driven professionals who are looking to grow their families and businesses and would like to share their ideas and challenges in a supportive and trusted environment.”
The survey results show widespread agreement about the need for “a new approach to governance” among the 1,500 U.S. adults surveyed in July. A majority of respondents (71%) agreed that “our political system is not broken; it is being abused by people who are in politics for their benefit or personal interests.”
The same group of respondents believed that “the system still works, but it requires officials who will protect our freedoms by applying constitutional principles rather than changing the system to satisfy personal preferences or ideological ideals.” Majorities of conservatives (80%), Republicans (79%), liberals (71%), independents (71%), Democrats (70%), and moderates (67%) agreed with the statement above.
The overwhelming majority of Americans (71%), conservatives (81%), Republicans (78%), independents (71%), Democrats (68%), moderates (67%), and liberals (64%) showed agreement with a statement proclaiming that “the future success of the United States depends on restoring stability to our system, institutions, and way of life.” The groups above stressed the need for “consistency and steadiness rather than changes that redefine the character and goals of America.”
While respondents expressed some consensus in their assessment of American politics, the research determined that “voters allowed themselves to be
manipulated into one of three states of mind — indifference (the one-third of the voting public who accepted the situation), antagonism (some two-thirds of voters who held onto negative feelings or took negative actions against people of different political perspectives), or disconnection (the estimated 53% of the voting-eligible public who sat out the election).”
George Barna, the director of research at the Cultural Research Center, reacted to the findings in written responses to The Christian Post, in which he complained about “how easily the political class has manipulated the public high-tech.”
It has taken a combination of actors and efforts to disempower the public: repeated media narratives, disinformation distributed by high-tech companies, radical shifts in educational content in public schools, and distractions and misdirection by politicians to get people focused on the wrong things,” he said. That Americans have become oblivious or hardened to all these immoral practices is perhaps the most tragic and frightening transformation.”
Barna predicted that the 2024 U.S. presidential election could amount to a “point of no return” where Americans will either choose to be ruled by a government “of, by, and for the people” or a “government of elites not unlike the monarchy we left behind in England over 200 years ago.” He told CP, “we are approaching a point at which we have surrendered too much freedom to restore those freedoms without a violent civil war — and I do not believe the American people have the heart or passion for such a conflict.”
“The next presidential election is likely to produce one of two outcomes,” he contended. “One outcome would be to vote out the elitist government approach, rejecting a government that controls most aspects of people’s lives, as the Democrats wish to do. Over seven out of 10 adults (71%) say they want less government intrusion and control over their decisions.”
He maintained, “the other outcome is to vote for candidates who intend to increase the power and authority of government, eroding individual freedoms so much that we cannot regain them without a civil war.” Barna envisioned the long-term implications of such a scenario, where “neither individual officials nor government bodies will voluntarily surrender the power they have gained.”
Barna lamented that based on the results of his surveys, “the public gives lip service to wanting to keep their freedoms and limit government’s intrusion into their lives, but their actions betray their unwillingness to back up that view with the action.” He mentioned a paradox where “at the same time they say they want less government intrusion, we also find three out of four adults say they want the government to solve more social problems.”
The veteran researcher cited the results of the 2022 midterm elections as evidence to back up his theory. He recalled how “at the time of the election, America featured a weak and faltering economy, a military in disarray, a broken immigration system, a politically divided population, an ineffective criminal justice system, a declining public education system, and broad and deep conviction that the nation’s political leaders were corrupt, incompetent, deceiving, and self-serving.” He characterized these developments as factors that would help Republicans.
“Despite those realities, Democrats fared reasonably well in the midterm election, retaining control of the Senate and losing fewer-than-expected seats in the House. Most of the incumbents seeking re-election won their seats back. And our surveys showed that barely over one-third of voters made much of an effort to understand the candidates and the issues. It might not have mattered since most voters admit they do not understand a large share of the priority issues, anyway.”
Barna pointed to the results of the midterms as proof that “it was treated by voters as a business-as-usual election, while those in power have not been engaging in governance-as-usual; the Democrats, in particular, but with help, most times from Republicans, are engaging in breaking and restructuring the system to their liking and for their benefit.” Adding that “no one is stopping them,” Barna reiterated that “if the next election cannot do so, we may well be beyond the point of no return.”
Barna cited the rise in secularism and the increasing lack of religiosity in American culture as “huge” factors underlying Americans’ loss of confidence in national leaders, national parties, and national institutions. AmericasOne Founder Marc Nuttle identified the erosion of trust in politicians and political systems as a primary takeaway of the study.
“Without the Bible as an aim and unchanging standard of truth, we have no foundation and vision for morality,” Barna insisted. “With most Americans say that people, not God, hold the keys to decoding morality, and most of these people name their feelings as the source of moral wisdom; if we have a ‘bad feeling’ about a politician, policy, or institution, it can instantly be deemed immoral.”
“Lacking the transparency necessary to permit rational and factual accountability, the government can be suspect based on a bad feeling. The refusal to be transparent and a mountain of known lies and manipulations by the government has led to such feelings.”
Barna addressed Nuttle’s proposition that “the re-emerging governing authority of the United States is families, contributing to the collective national will for the definition of government policy.” He suggested that the breakdown of the nuclear family impacts its status as “the re-emerging governing authority of the United States.”
“In our nation today, we have a minority of families with a full-time resident father present,” he explained. “Even fewer have a resident father who is a committed Christian. Less than 4 percent have a resident father with a biblical worldview. The focus of our families has thus shifted from honoring God and His ways to seeking happiness and comfort. The government then becomes a surrogate moral authority, passing a flood of laws that have replaced the wisdom and guidance of God as our new moral code.”
Barna addressed previous research from the Cultural Research Center, finding that Evangelicals, a critical voting bloc in American politics, saw issues like inflation and rising gas prices as a more noteworthy determinant of their vote in the midterm elections as opposed to abortion. The researcher elaborated on “why abortion is overestimated in its influence upon conservative Christians.”
“First, Americans are suffering from issue fatigue. Most adults are burned out on abortion as a deciding factor in electoral politics,” he concluded. “Second, most people believe that abortion does not directly affect them. As a result, they focus on issues tangibly affecting them at the moment, such as inflation, unemployment, crime, and supply chain shortages. It also appears that there is confusion about the lengths to which public policy must go to place limits on the moral choices of Americans.”
Barna states, “We are uncertain whether the government should make moral boundaries regarding our sexual behaviors and choices. Millions of Americans would not be wrestling with such ambiguity if we had achieved such training in homes and schools; if.”