This is the summer of discontent. Discontent which may be laid largely at the feet of the Republican Party, including their far-right wing contingent called the Tea Party. It's funny how that works. People get really tired of nothing happening -- no jobs, no immigration, no economic advancement -- while billionaires line their pockets with more.
Enter our hero, Pat Caddell, with his answer to the problem.
People are mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore, an extensive new survey of public attitudes toward the government finds.
The study, conducted by EMC Research, relies on three in-depth surveys in late 2013, one by telephone and two on the Internet. When lined up with historical trends on dissatisfaction and alienation, it shows a public that has become increasingly distrustful of the government over the past several decades. Only the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks interrupted that trend, briefly rallying people around their leaders. Within just a few years, that feeling had faded, and faith in government and politicians returned to its steady decline.
The man behind the latest study is Patrick Caddell, who found similar, if less intense, levels of alienation as the pollster for Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern in the early 1970s.
Many have written about eroding trust in government, but they actually analyze the cause of it, which is the Republican penchant for breaking democracy whenever they can in order to convince people government doesn't work.
And now Captain Obvious flies in with the answers to our discontent:
While today's disaffection is partly due to the economy, Caddell argues that something deeper is going on. Two-thirds of the survey's respondents felt that they have no say in government, with 73 percent believing the government does not rule with the consent of the people.
"People like to say that the country is more divided than ever," Caddell said, "but in fact the country is united about one thing: that the political class does not represent them, that the system is rigged against them. There is a belief that the system is rigged, and that's what we need to understand."
Gee, I wonder why people would believe such a thing. (Hint: Citizens United)
Caddell's answer? More Republicans!
Caddell and a team of allies are using the study as a springboard to launch We Need Smith, a populist version of the No Labels effort that flopped in its campaign to draw a corporate, centrist presidential candidate into the 2012 election with the promise of tens of millions of dollars in backing. Caddell argues that No Labels' approach was wildly out of touch and that popular disaffection with the two parties does not mean that voters crave a bland centrist. What they want, he thinks, is someone in the mold of the Jimmy Stewart character who challenged government corruption in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
We Need Smith is also being led by Bob Perkins, a former senior official with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee, and Scott Miller, founder of the Sawyer/Miller Group and a marketing and communications consultant who has worked in both Republican and Democratic national campaigns. There is clearly a sizable chunk of money behind the effort, though Caddell declined to specify the source or its specific motivations.
Are we at the pitchfork stage yet?