The incoming Obama administration has set a number of ambitious goals for itself. Refreshingly, the public, far from being cynical about this, is remarkably optimistic that the new administration can actually succeed in meeting these goals.
In a recent Gallup poll, the top eight goals about which the public expressed optimism were: improve conditions for minorities and the poor (80 percent believe the new administration will be able to do this); increase respect for the United States abroad (76 percent); improve education (71 percent); improve the quality of the environment (70 percent); reduce unemployment (67 percent); bring troops home from Iraq in a way that doesn’t harm the United States (66 percent); improve the health care system (64 percent); and create a strong economic recovery (64 percent).
That’s quite a list, and some of it will not be cheap. At this point, however, the public does not seem fazed by the idea that serious resources may be necessary to accomplish some of these goals. In a recent CNN poll, for example, the public was asked whether it was more important to stimulate economic recovery or reduce the deficit. By more than a 2-1 margin (66 percent to 31 percent), the public chose stimulating the economy.
These polling results suggest that the Obama administration can take a bold approach to addressing our nation’s problems and still be assured of considerable public support.