Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Political Class?

Here’s a funny thing (spotted via NewsCorpse and PatriotRoom). Rasmussen Reports, an American polling company, has created a new demographic category called “Political Class” when reporting its polls.

It works like this. When a poll is reported, such as this one on whether the US Government has too much power, the results are reported both for mainstream Americans and for the political class. So, 85% of mainstream Americans think that Uncle Sam is too powerful, while only 2% of the political class agree.

So, how do Rasmussen define the political class? Congressmen? People working in think tanks?

No, it’s based on the answers to three questions, they explain. The three questions are:

  • Generally speaking, when it comes to important national issues, whose judgment do you trust more – the American people or America‚Äôs political leaders?
  • Some people believe that the federal government has become a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests. Has the federal government become a special interest group?
  • Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors?

Call me a commie European girly-man, but aren’t those very odd questions? Maybe I’m just a member of that nasty old Political Class, but if you answered ‘yes’ to all three questions, I wouldn’t call you a mainstream American, I’d call you paranoid.

Now, this is in part because the American tradition of populism has never (yet) had much traction in Europe. In US history, there have been parties and movements that would have wholeheartedly agreed with all of those questions. But is it fair to call those people “Mainstream”? That’s a strongly positive brand – implying to most people that they should think that way too.

Even more unpleasant is the categorisation of anyone who agrees with any of the questions as a member of the “Political Class”. You can see how this would skew results towards blog-pleasing populist headlines about how “Mainstream Americans” don’t want universal healthcare, support Sarah Palin, want to have machine guns, and so on.

And as for those people who think that government can occasionally do the right thing? They’re only members of the Political Class, you can safely hate them, you don’t need to listen to what they say.

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Published by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.