New Orleans The Wall Street Journal did a Business Roundtable of sorts, and one thing should have been enough to scare the stuffing (a sop to Thanksgiving, ok?) out of the business community if they bothered to read it. Journal reporter, Matt Murray, talked to Peter Hart, the Democratic pollster, and Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster. In a throw away comment at the end of the interview, Hart may have not only explained more about why something like the Tea-People and their Tea Party caucus are on the rise, but also why this may be the time for other bands to form and enter the lists.
The bottom line is the American people currently have lost confidence in everybody and don’t believe in s**t. They know who to blame, but the distrust and alienation is such that they don’t trust anyone out there now among the regular players, talking heads, and standard institutions unless their lives depend on it. The numbers also explain why there is a total mind meld between the left and right now on the issue of free trade with both looking to tighten it down in a reaction against globalization for various reasons.
Here’s what they said:
Who’s to Blame
MR. MURRAY: Who do people blame for that alienation? Business, government, everybody?
MR. HART: It’s all institutions. In the exit polls, first and foremost they named Wall Street and business, I think it was something like 35%. Second was the Bush administration, and third was the Obama administration.
But of those who said the business community, they voted more Republican than Democratic, so go figure. What it really comes back around to is we’ve lost confidence in every single institution. The only institutions that sort of remain are the military, firefighters, paramedics, that kind of thing.
But you look at the news media, you look at the business community, you look at banking and you look at Wall Street, it’s now about 10% confidence. It used to be 40%, 50%, 70%. A lot of this has to do with a sense of, who’s fighting for me and who understands where I’m at?
MR. MURRAY: Have Americans lost some faith in free-market economics?
MR. MCINTURFF: One of the really profound things that is happening is a sharp drop over the last decade in support for something called free trade. There is a growing sense that other countries have taken advantage of us, and that free trade has become synonymous with outsourcing, with shipping jobs overseas. When you ask people, has free trade helped the economy, by a 2 to 1 margin they say it has hurt. Republicans, upper-income households, people with the largest assets have dropped precipitously in their support for free trade.
MR. MURRAY: What do you think business leaders need to know as they look at this landscape?
MR. HART: Pure and simple, it all comes back around to jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs. What you have seen politically doesn’t stop in the political marketplace. Business leaders need to understand how quickly things are moving and the willingness of the public to go beyond your established brands. I mean, if we had said three years ago, we want to talk about the Tea Party, you would have thrown us out, you would have taken away our contract. That’s how quickly things are moving.
This seems to also say that it’s time for Obama to finally come out fighting. In fact it seems like it’s a golden opportunity for all of us to come out fighting if we have the will and wherewithal.