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At long last, bipartisan consensus?

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By Rob Witwer

The Gallup organization recently released a stunning poll showing that 81 percent of Americans are unhappy with the way the country is being governed.
Further breaking down those poll numbers, the Gallup press release went on to note that “57 percent have little or no confidence in the federal government to solve domestic problems, exceeding the previous high of 53 percent recorded in 2010 and well exceeding the 43 percent who have little or no confidence in the government to solve international problems.”
Do these numbers offer hope of bipartisanship? In a nation where political parties can’t seem to find any common ground, it appears the general public has no trouble agreeing on one thing: Neither Democrats nor Republicans are getting the job done.
We’re blessed to live in a nation where politics don’t usually matter. Unlike many current or historical totalitarian regimes, the state isn’t constantly involved in our daily lives. For the most part, we’re free to go about our daily business, make a living and raise our families.
But the accumulation of economic woes that affect every individual and family is increasingly connected to the actions of government. Deficit spending has severely undermined confidence in American debt. As the private sector contracts, the public sector grows in obvious and unseen ways. Both parties have contributed to the problems, and neither has shown the courage to tackle “third rail” problems.
In the midst of high unemployment and financial uncertainty, the noise from Washington consists not of the soothing reassurances of FDR, JFK or Reagan. Instead, it’s an endless cycle of partisan recriminations between two parties that have forgotten that their primary task is to be Americans, not Republicans or Democrats.
 I’m encouraged by Gallup’s numbers. They show the American people remain capable of consensus. As Democratic pollster and strategist Pat Caddell notes, a majority of Americans still elevate common sense above partisanship.  
But an increasing percentage of that majority no longer identifies with either political party.

Rob Witwer is a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives and co-author of the book “The Blueprint: How Democrats Won Colorado and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care.”