It's really hard not to get discouraged when you realize that all the anti-intellectual elitist talk has led us to this exact circumstance:
"Reconstituting the Submerged State: The Challenges of Social Policy Reform in the Obama Era," a paper by Cornell's Clinton Rossiter Professor of American Institutions Suzanne Mettler features this remarkable chart showing that about half of American social program beneficiaries believe that they "have not used a government social program."
That's right...all those bonehead tea baggers going to rallies with signs that say "Keep the guvmint out of my Medicare" really *are* actually that ignorant.
The Mettler paper (.pdf) is equal parts fascinating and depressing. It confirms for me that the entire national dialog is being controlled by people who really understand very little and revel in their lack of comprehension.
Over time, the policies of the submerged state have reshaped politics in two ways, both of which presented profound challenges to Obama as he sought to accomplish reform and which, paradoxically, also imperil the success of his greatest achievements thus far. First, especially during the past two decades, the submerged state has nurtured particular sectors of the market economy and they have in turn invested in strengthening their political capacity for the sake of preserving existing arrangements. As a result, the alteration of such arrangements has required either defeating entrenched interests—which has proven impossible in most cases—or, more typically, negotiating with and accommodating them, which hardly appears to be the kind of change Obama’s supporters expected when he won office. Second, such policies have shrouded the state’s role, making it largely invisible to most ordinary citizens, even beneficiaries of existing policies. As a result, the public possesses little awareness of such policies, nor are most people cognizant of either what is at stake in reform efforts or the significance of their success.