In retrospect, it seems amazing that a largely unknown and inexperienced politician could ascend from obscurity to the U.S. Senate to the presidency of the United States in just a handful of years with little more than the right political connections and the power of oratory. Even more unlikely that he would sweep into office on the promise of “Hope and Change.”

The power of that slogan lies only in the influence of the person delivering it.

President Obama is rapidly losing both influence and the power to effect hope. His poll numbers have been dropping all year, but the latest are the most devastating.

Americans are more pessimistic about the state of the country and less confident in President Barack Obama’s leadership than at any point since Mr. Obama entered the White House, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll…

Sixty-two percent of adults in the survey feel the country is on the wrong track, the highest level since before the 2008 election. Just one-third think the economy will get better over the next year, a 7-point drop from a month ago and the low point of Mr. Obama’s tenure.

Amid anxiety over the nation’s course, support for Mr. Obama and other incumbents is eroding. For the first time, more people disapprove of Mr. Obama’s job performance than approve. And 57% of voters would prefer to elect a new person to Congress than re-elect their local representatives, the highest share in 18 years.

The results show “a really ugly mood and an unhappy electorate,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducts the Journal/NBC poll with GOP pollster Bill McInturff. “The voters, I think, are just looking for change, and that means bad news for incumbents and in particular for the Democrats.”

The voters are looking for a change. This was the fever that gripped the country in 2008. In 2010, things have changed for the worse.

The poll shows some of the most important sources of public discontent. More than eight in 10 Americans described themselves as dissatisfied with the economy. And the unabated BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico isn’t helping: seven in 10 fear the spill will have a major effect on the economy. By 50 percent to 42 percent, Americans disapprove Mr. Obama’s handling of the spill.

Mr. Obama and his party’s leaders in Congress face treacherous cross-currents in attempting to respond to economic concerns. A 55 percent majority rates job creation and economic growth as a top priority for the federal government. Yet 69 percent say they favor Congressional candidates who want to cut federal spending, at a time when Democratic leaders consider more spending on unemployment benefits, aid to states and jobs programs as critical to reducing joblessness.

The majority of Americans do not want big government. In spite of the president’s declaration that America is not a Christian nation, the country remains a culture predominantly populated by a Christian majority. And that population believes man is prior to the state.

For Christians the purpose of politics is to create peace and order under which men can live out their freedoms, their responsibilities, and pursue an integrated vision of the good life. Politics is necessary and important, but by no means sufficient, primary, or the end of life–even life here on earth.

This is the vision of medieval thinkers like Thomas Aquinas and the Reformed theologian, Johannes Althusius, who wrote that “politics is the art of associating men for the purpose of establishing, cultivating, and conserving social life among them.”…

This is why Christians today need to be concerned with the revival of community, private charity, mutual aid societies, strong families, and vibrant churches. But it is also why we must beware of finding community in the state…

Ironic that the community-organizer-in-chief has shown the country the power of organizing. And they’ve realized it by organizing as a community of believers in the common ground that realizes its power in the change that comes from within.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....