BYRON YORK: Why 2020 Was Unique.

In most years, a majority of respondents told pollsters the message they would send to the federal government was “leave me alone.” In 2014, 59 percent said “leave me alone.” In 2016, it was 54 percent. In 2012, it was 53 percent. At the same time, during those years, much smaller numbers of respondents, 32 percent, 39 percent, and 37 percent, respectively, said the message they would send the government would be “lend me a hand.”

In other words, majorities did not feel the need for an especially activist federal government. No, they were not saying they did not want existing government programs like Social Security or clean air standards. But they were saying they did not want broad new expansions of the government into everyday life.

That changed dramatically in August 2020, at the height of the Covid pandemic. At that time, a solid majority, 57 percent, said their message to the government was “lend me a hand.” Just 36 percent said “leave me alone.”

The reasons were obvious. The public wanted a vaccine. Those who were unemployed through no fault of their own needed money. The same for small business owners trying to survive. Of course they wanted the government to lend a hand.

But by the time of the new poll, this week, with the nation — even with the Delta variant — pulling out of the worst effects of the pandemic, the “lend me a hand” number had fallen to 44 percent. That, by the way, is precisely what it was in 2011, when the nation was pulling out of the Great Recession. Barring some unexpected calamity, the “lend me a hand” number will likely fall further.

The increased “lend me a hand” sentiment was engineered, of course, by policies backed by the Democrats, and by media coverage. But I repeat myself.