There was a time not so long ago, back when the country wasn't perpetually teetering on the brink of economic collapse, when bitching about the federal government was fun. Washington was that crazy unemployed uncle who was always hanging around, irritating as hell but otherwise harmless.
But now that his gas can's empty and the match is lit, the joy has disappeared. The complaints take on a fearful tone; the emotions behind them turn from bemused exasperation to to pure burning hatred.
This shift can be measured by pollsters, at least to a point. They've watched as the number of Americans who express faith in their elected leaders and in the direction they're leading the country plummets to historic lows.
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Nowhere in the country are those numbers lower than in Dallas. A recent Harris Interactive poll found that, among the nation's biggest cities, Dallas despises Washington more than anyone.
It's no surprise that we dislike President Barack Obama. Sixty-nine percent of Dallasites say he's doing either a bad or a terrible job, the same number as Houston, which is the only other city that comes close. Our hatred of Congress burns even brighter, with 94 percent of Dallas respondents giving it poor marks -- a tie for first place with Boston. On the question of whether the country is on the right track, our pessimism is unmatched, with 75 percent saying no.
Keep in mind that these numbers were compiled on the eve of the government shutdown and so have likely become a bit worse.
In its news release announcing the poll results, Harris studiously avoids applying the City of Hate label, classifying Dallas instead as somewhere the president "probably wants to avoid." Which kind of amounts to the same thing, no?