The most important problem facing America today is ...

Government, according to Gallup.

Why do you think that is? And what do you think is the most important problem facing America today (and why)?

Fundamentally I think it’s the inability of our elected officials and parties to work together, to compromise and give us a functional government. We have a lot of problems that we need to get through, but basically partisan politics ensures that the really difficult and long term problems get pushed to the side, since neither political side has or will have the overwhelming majority needed to just push through what they want as they want it. Our system was designed to be a system of compromise, but we’ve totally lost that and instead our system becomes more dysfunctional as time goes by. Sadly, I don’t see any end to this or any solution…both sides feel they are right and the other side is wrong or evil or stupid or whatever, and both feel they have compromised all they are going to and why should they compromise more when the other doesn’t, blah blah blah. I’m fairly sure that there will be 'dopers pointing this out in subsequent posts about how THEIR side already does this and it’s the evil other side who is the problem. Neither seem to realize that, realistically, they will always have to work with the other to get anything major done, and without bipartisan support for an initiative even if they get something passed because they have a temporary majority, eventually the other side will waste time and resources trying to get it watered down, stopping it or generally getting in it’s way as much as possible.

The notion that “The Government is the problem” has been marketed on the Right relentlessly at least since Reagan, probably since Goldwater. For those on the Right, it has become an article of faith. For those on the other side, it is easy to come to the same conclusion observing the current partisan politics.

Climate change.

Gotta go with Icarus on this. I think “government is the problem” is a jar of snake oil sold by the rich to convince the working man that cutting taxes is going to make his life better.

Really? Cool, answer this then:

How do you ‘solve’ this problem in the current political climate? What’s your plan? Wait until the Dems have an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate AND the presidency? And do you expend all of your political capital and your one shot at Doing Something™ when the stars align and you have that on this, or do you have anything else you want to try and do while the window is there?

We get the government we vote for. The problem isn’t government, it’s people.

And, the people are a problem because they (we) are poor, uneducated, and unsophisticated. And we see that there are those who have when we feel like we don’t have what we want/deserve, so our mean and greedy natures take over. Life becomes a vicious race.

Social/economic inequality lies at the root of this, so I name it as our #1 problem. It twists society into something inhumane.

Ignorance, and willful ignorance especially, is the biggest problem facing us today.

I wrote a bunch more, but that is really the gist of it.

Let’s be fair, even though government was the number one answer, it was only given by 16% of people. So I’d hardly call that something to worry about, it is probably tea partiers who would say that answer no matter what was happening making up the bulk of those answers.

Having said that, I can see why government dysfunction is the biggest problem in the US. The US has serious problems. Unaffordable health care, collapse of the middle class, climate change, mass shootings, etc but the government refuses to do anything about any of these issues due to corruption from lobbyists and dysfunctional politics where people only care about getting reelected.

If we had a more functional government then issues like climate change, health care, income inequality, etc would be easier to solve.

I think the biggest problem is the lack of institutional, cultural, and intellectual respect for property rights. Thanks for asking.

It’s the craziness of the Republican party and supporters. The moderate Republicans (who would compromise with the Democrats) have almost totally disappeared.

Look at health care. Republicans have zero interest in solving this problem: the House has voted for the 62nd time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, yet not once did it pass a replacement.

The problem with Government as a possible answer there are two diatmetrically opposed groups that will claim the government is the problem and those are being pooled together.

On the one hand you have people like XT who see the problem as being that government is being rendered ineffective as exemplified by constant gridlock and shutdowns, while on the other side, there are those who see government itself as a problem and that gridlock and shutdowns are the best way to keep it in check. But both groups get included under one heading of government.

The other categories such as terrorism don’t have this property, since I suspect that very few of those who put down terrorism as the number one problem did so because they felt the terrorists were being less effective than they should be.

The concept of ‘property rights’ could not exist without a government strong enough to enforce it.

Thanks for playing.

Gotta go with willful ignorance, blinkered self interest, and socio-political polarization.

Having said that, it has always been thus; Nothing new under the sun.

Hey now, this thread didn’t ask for solutions!

Purdue government study:

People haven’t been taught how to think.

Government is the biggest problem facing our country today.
We live in a great time and a great place, we are one of the richest countries in the world, and are the richest big country in the world by large and growing margin. We have full employment and are biggest foreign policy problem is a bunch of medievalist nutcases in Syria.
Things are good but government is the reason they are not better. Every new drug takes a least a billion dollars to pass through the clearance process even ones that have been used safely in Europe for years. As a result many diseases do not even have people looking for cures because they do no affect enough people. Treatment development for cancer is focused on late stage extension of life instead of early stage cures or prevention because patent rules make it impossible to have enough time to run good trials and still have a patent. Thousands of people die every year of kidney disease and the taxpayer pays tens of billions more in healthcare because the government makes compensating kidney donors illegal.
Outlawing recreational drugs has made our inner cities into battlegrounds for violent gangs.
There are whole regions and cities where buying a house is not feasible for the average person because government rules makes it either illegal or uneconomic to build new houses.
Government subsidies and loan programs have driven up the cost of college so much, most graduates have to borrow huge amounts of money to be able to afford it.

I don’t know any place where housing prices are high because builders are not building new houses. When prices were high in my region, there was also a corresponding building boom. Even the high prices housing in Seattle, as an example, cannot be linked to “Government rules” making it illegal or uneconomic to build new houses.

The biggest problem is plutocracy/oligarchy. Whenever the rich/big-biz want option A and the rest of us want option B, we get A.

I think this analysis only makes sense if conservatives list government as a problem more than liberals on the polls. I glanced at the cite in the OP and didn’t see a break-down by political beliefs so I’ll go with the assumption that the breakdown is similar between conservatives and liberals.

I think to some degree that the results of the poll show how good we have it: the biggest thing we have to bitch about is the government. Racism and sexism have never been better and we have low poverty rates*. The environment in the US is better than it has been in probably 100 years**.

For problems that still exist (e.g. racism in our justice system) the solutions often require government but the opposing sides want different actions. This leads to everybody believing that the government is doing nothing or, if something actually does happen (like the ACA) then half the country thinks the government is doing the wrong thing.

    • This doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of room for improvement.
      ** - Global warming is definitely a long-term problem but the current impact on Americans is negligible compared to stuff like California smog, acid rain, and superfund sites.

ETA: I’d say our biggest problem is the incarceration rate of young black men. It is appalling.