News & Analysis
Severe Disaffection: Seventy-five Percent of US Citizens Don't Trust Government
A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds the nation is increasingly distrustful of the federal government: 73 percent don't have faith that lawmakers – members of Congress in particular – will do the right thing. Judy Woodruff asks Andy Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, for more details and historical context. – PBS Newshour
Dominant Social Theme: This has been going on for a long time and is nothing new. When the economy improves, people will feel better.
Free-Market Analysis: The Pew Survey has found that three-quarters of the United States population doesn't trust government but for the Public Broadcasting System, it's a partisan issue and also "business as usual."
From our point of view, it is not, of course. It is a manifestation of a larger disaffection that has been exacerbated by what we call the Internet Reformation. The Internet allows people to understand their world in ways they didn't before and tends to put discontent into a larger perspective.
Whereas before, people might have been more apt to blame themselves or their circumstances for their troubles, now they may see their dilemmas as part of a larger systemic issue. But the nation's media gatekeepers like PBS continue to focus on such issues as they have in the past, mainly through the lens of the two-party political system. This in a sense trivializes the growing discontent and misinterprets it, as well.
In a transcript of a discussion of the findings, Judy Woodruff of PBS, the US public news organization, positioned the issue as one where people felt they were "not getting what they want out of government."
She and Andy Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, never mentioned the Internet's impact at all. Not once.
Nor did they mention the full import of these statistics. If 75 percent of another country's population were disaffected with government, that would be seen as a significant statement about what had obviously gone wrong. But US mainstream media persists in seeing the issue in a parochial way. Here's more from the transcript:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next ... a new survey from the Pew Research Center finds the nation increasingly distrustful of the federal government. The findings released today show that about one-quarter of Americans trust government to do the right thing always or most of the time. A whopping 73 percent don't. And those surveyed blame members of Congress. Asked if the political system can work, 56 percent responded that lawmakers are the problem, and 32 percent disagreed.
So, Andy, this survey found that not only do people not have a high regard for the federal government; they – you found that a majority think the federal government actually threatens their personal rights.
ANDREW KOHUT: Yes. We have – for the first time since we have been asking this question, we have a majority, 53 percent, saying that they feel personally threatened, their rights are personally threatened by the government. Now, this is mostly being led by a trend among Republicans, especially conservative Republicans. Among conservative Republicans, that percentage is 76 percent.
But it's a really very powerful attitude. It has to do with worries on the right and the middle as well that the government is encroaching on them. Gun control is part of their worries. I think you go back to Obamacare, many people complaining the government is telling me that I have that to buy health insurance. They don't have the right to do this.
So this issue of the power of government, the role of government is certainly part of that. Now, this is different than distrust in government. It's certainly a part of it, but it's one particular element. ...
Well, it's been an up-and-down thing. And it relates to the things that are going on and the issues that are in play ... what the chart shows is that distrust in government has been endemic since the end of the 1960s, the Vietnam/post-Watergate era. It's largely been most people saying that they can't trust government. We have had a number of factors. People say – our studies show that trust in government falls when the economy is difficult and people don't think that government's effective in dealing with it.
They fall at times of unpopular wars, Vietnam, Iraq. And now I think the fall, the tumble and the concern here with government is gridlock. People are very concerned that government isn't getting anywhere. I mean, two statistics really stand out to me from this election.
Only 25 percent have a favorable view of Congress; 90 percent of the people who ran for reelection got reelected. And that is the nature – that's the source of the frustration.
All the proverbial bases are touched here. The one that stands out the most, perhaps, is the idea that people's REAL frustration is government gridlock.
The implication is that people are not frustrated with the system but government response to it. If government officials would only react in a more statesmanlike and pro-active way, people would be more forgiving of the political system and begin to back it again.
In fact, many surveys show support for Congress stands around 10 percent, an incredible number for a representative democracy and one that signals enormous disaffection. Three-quarters of US citizens don't trust the US government and some 90 percent don't trust Congress.
To explore more of the issues the media omits, see the Daily Bell Special Report, "10 Surprising Geopolitical Threats: What You Must Know To Protect Your Money Now," written for our readers who "have an open, questioning mind and want to understand the TRUTH – to protect your investments and your family."
Such figures are not discussed every day, for obvious reasons. But bear them in mind when watching or reading the mainstream media to get a sense of just how disconnected modern political policy is from the actuality of voter sentiment.
In fact, most voters, if asked about their belief systems without being "pushed" in one way or another, would probably indicate a preference to be left alone by government for the most part. Many voters, if allowed to express their sentiments fully, would express doubt about Washington's many foreign wars and, generally, the evolution of the US "empire" both at home and abroad.
These sentiments are not usually expressed, however; certainly they are not presented by the mainstream media. Instead, these points of view are minimized or simply not presented at all.
Both Kohut and Woodruff provide us with examples of how the nation's growing discontent can be minimized rhetorically and misdiagnosed so as to present it as a political rather than cultural problem.
In this they are doing a service to the larger power elite that has created regulatory democracy with all of its flaws and militaristic adventurism. The idea is surely that larger electoral doubts about the system ought not to be voiced too enthusiastically for fear they will be prove contagious.
But as the Pew survey shows, such damage control has its limits. When a system is failing as profoundly as the current one is foundering, it ceases to be an issue that can be controlled by promotional "spin."
The issues underlying the Pew survey are quite serious and abiding. They represent a profound disconnect between the US electorate and the political system that purports to speak for them. The situation, we would suspect, is similar in Europe and even in Britain.
Conclusion: When sociopolitical systems diverge so profoundly from the cultures they are supposed to serve – and do so for decades at a time – we would argue that trouble is not far behind.
Posted by David_Robertson on 02/04/13 09:07 AM
It seems that you agree that the Dominant Social Theme is that democracy doesn't work. If indeed capitalism and democracy are antithetical and if the US is a capitalist society then it makes sense that those who are in charge would work to undermine their enemy.
Those who support capitalism would no doubt argue that what you have in the US is not really capitalism since it lacks a free market and sound money which are essential for a true capitalist economy. The aberrations you mention would then be symptoms of a sick capitalist system that has gone off the rails.
You mention certain countries where you believe that democracy works. Since they are all countries with central banks and banking systems it is certain that they all have capitalist economies or at least what is called capitalist today. The difference would then appear to be the size of the countries involved.
If this proves to be the case then your original hypothesis that capitalism and democracy are mutually antithetical would seem to be flawed. Perhaps the size of the country is the controlling factor as to whether they can work together. Since it is unlikely that countries, unlike corporations, would agree to downsize it is likely that we shall have to put up with this state of affairs for the foreseeable future.
However In my personal view capitalism in its present (and only) form doesn't work any better than democracy or socialism or any other -ism if one is using as a yardstick the greatest good of the greatest number. The world is self evidently dysfunctional and has been, so far as I can tell, for its entire history. It has been truly said that
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never Is, but always To be blest: The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come." (Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man).
The German poet Friedrich von Schiller said something similar in his poem called "Die Hoffnung":
"Es reden und träumen die Menschen viel von bessern künftigen Tagen; nach einem glücklichen, goldenen Ziel
sieht man sie rennen und jagen. Die Welt wird alt und wieder jung, doch der Mensch erhofft immer Verbesserung."
It seems to me that the sentiments expressed by the poets are closer to the truth. Until we realise that what we are panting after is a mirage and that our condition is incurable it is highly unlikely that we shall come to our senses and hear what the prophets have been saying to us for a very long time.
Posted by speedygonzales on 02/03/13 08:59 AM
"Perhaps the Dominant Social Theme here is that democracy doesn't work."
"Do the principles of capitalism and democracy contradict each other?
Think about it, the US is both a democratic and a capitalistic society, yet the corporations which form the foundations of its economy function more like autocracies. A company that takes every vote into consideration probably wouldn't last long in the fast paced, highly competitive world that is the capitalistic market place. Democracy is based more on communal/social concerns whilst capitalism is very much the opposite - it's more like survival of the fittest, with the weakest of the group getting wiped out and the strongest earning far more than their expected shares in a corresponding socialist government. Point is that these two models - capitalism and democracy - seem innately opposed to each other, and that a society couldn't at heart be both. This could explain a lot of the corporate bribing and electoral fraud that goes on in the US and other purported democracies; the drive for supremacy that capitalism creates would effectively undermine any true efforts at democracy.
The principles of capitalism and democracy are exact opposites.
Capitalism is deception about ownership of companies. There are all new companies, stores, restaurants, and banks every 4 years, and an average employment duration of 1 year within false economics capitalism, (that is possibly a secret homelessness without health insurance death camp). Remaining solvent does not actually exist within false economics capitalism.
Get rich quick schemes in the capitalist business world, (buyouts, IPOs, conglomerates, acquisitions, mergers, and the stock market), do not actually work. Profit existing in the capitalist business world, or millionaires existing within capitalism, is pathological deception committed by the 21 organizations spying on the population with plain clothes agents, (with covert fake names and fake backgrounds).
Actual economics is the persons that are paying the business loans of companies voting at work in order to control the property they are paying for. The employees of companies are also paying the expenses of companies beyond their own salaries.
Capitalism is imaginary parents psychology, false economics, and criminal deception of employees that are paying the bills (including the stocks and bonds, or shares) of companies.
A fully functioning political democracy could not tolerate a capitalist economy. The power elite knows this, which is why the U.S. government has tried to subvert democracy in every country in which U.S. capitalists have tried to exploit resources and labor (see Parenti). A country in which the people as a whole actually make decisions about their common destiny would, of course, not permit such exploitation. "Democracy subverts capitalism": it works on diametrically opposed principles of the value of human life and the worth of collective decision-making. The power elite does not have to take the same extreme steps in the U.S. because, as Domhoff explains throughout his book (and Parenti concurs in chapter 18 and the chapters on bureaucracy, the media and elections), it has already taken control of the "democratic" forms of the political system and has reduced political culture to mere "consumption" of the ideology of individualism and consumerism.
The ugly truth is that capitalism-in-practice hates free markets, always seeking to overturn the rules and impose oligopoly if not outright monopoly through barriers to entry, manipulation of the political process, distortion of regulation, predatory pricing, brute force, and the usual slate of anti-trust practices.
The same apply on politix in capitalist society.
The answer is: Democracy worx- see Scandinavia,Benelux,Austria,Swiss. Problem is democracy did not reach US shores yet.
Posted by speedygonzales on 02/03/13 08:31 AM
In November 2012, the Democratic House leadership offered a model daily schedule to newly elected Democrats which suggests a ten-hour day, five hours of which are dominated by 'call time' and 'strategic outreach,' including fund raisers and correspondence with potential donors. Three or four hours are for actually doing the job they were elected to do, such as attending committee meetings, voting on legislation, and interacting with constituents.
When half of one's time is devoted to asking for money from rich individuals and special interests, there is no way that he can respond to the problems which pervade the country. And yet, even Congressmen in safe seats are expected to fundraise constantly so as to support their colleagues in competitive districts. As Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) put it, '…this is the mother's milk of what [Congressmen] need to do to try to sustain their campaigns, and it's the only system they have to work with.'
Thus, even well-meaning Congressmen face a Catch-22 where they are pushed to fundraise to secure their seats, but then once in office, it is basically impossible for them to do their jobs.
Click to view link
This is sign of serious mental illnes. They simply change congress to kindergarden. Next time they will stamp bees,rabitts,ants and for Ron Paul, Kucinich devils into work books which kongressmans will show up their parents and voters.
Posted by Danny B on 02/03/13 01:16 AM
Now that you mention culling the herd, here is an interesting map. It seems that the chemtrail planes that spread various toxins and diseases have bypasses the District of Colombia.
Click to view link
Posted by dkmeller1 on 02/02/13 09:45 PM
There is a way, I suppose, that would get people to trust "their" government again.
Be trustworthy! LOL
PS--When pigs fly!! DKM
Posted by dkmeller1 on 02/02/13 09:41 PM
75% of Americans don't trust "their own?" government. And how many of the rest are liars?
Posted by mava on 02/02/13 02:42 PM
Oh, and for him2:
I am a smoker.
Posted by mava on 02/02/13 02:41 PM
What is truly amazing to me is how the remaining 27 percent can still believe the government?
Can a human being be really THAT stupid, and still be classified as a human being?
Posted by Abu Aardvark on 02/02/13 10:58 AM
"Arkansas town's martial law plan ... Following a rise in violent crime in Paragould, an Arkansas town of around 26,000 residents, the mayor and police chief announced that starting this month police in SWAT gear carrying AR-15s would patrol the streets.
'If you're out walking, we're going to stop you, ask why you're out walking, and check for your ID,' police chief Todd Stovall told a December town hall meeting. As if to render the implementation of a visible police state more palatable, Stovall assured residents that police stops would not be based on any profiling: 'We're going to do it to everybody,' he said." (Jan. 29)
Update (Jan. 30):
"According to local news reports, the police department canceled two subsequent town hall meetings to discuss the heavy handed policing plan. Following outrage from Paragould residents, the police cited 'public safety concerns' to cancel the meetings. Meanwhile, Paragould's mayor has reportedly dialed back his rhetoric around the amped up policing proposal and, according to the Arkansas Times, the mayor said patrolling police would not 'constantly' be carrying assault rifles. Although announced to begin in January, no SWAT patrols have begun in Paragould yet."
Click to view link
Posted by David_Robertson on 02/02/13 09:14 AM
Perhaps the Dominant Social Theme here is that democracy doesn't work. If so it has convinced me at least.
If the Congress had an 11% approval rating before the last elections and if 90% of the incumbents were elected then that would seem to indicate:
a) The pre-election polls cannot be trusted.
b) The election polls cannot be trusted.
c) The voters cannot be trusted.
d) All of the above.
Ergo, democracy doesn't work.
What comes next? How about a government where the "experts" and the "professionals" make all the decisions for everyone. Then the media can constantly entertain us with their advice and predictions thus convincing us that we should rely on them and stop thinking for ourselves. Eventually we can drop all the nonsense of polls and elections which no-one trusts anyway. Let's just get one with our lives and let the "experts" run the world.
Posted by timoore on 02/02/13 08:27 AM
DB, due to my belief that many/most US citizens receive their ideas from TV shows, I believe it would be educational for your Staff to analyze various episodes of popular shows just like you do with newspaper articles.
Posted by timoore on 02/02/13 08:21 AM
Posted by taxesbyanyothername on 02/02/13 02:05 AM
It seems certain to me that they are trying to cause conflict in any way they can. Black against white, rich against poor, Christian against Muslim, Religious against athiest, pro-life against pro-choice, young against old, police against non-government, all against all if they can.
Posted by Leviathanfighter on 02/02/13 01:20 AM
Ya gotta love the "spin." May we call this admission of PBS a "limited modified hangout"?
As ever, PBS cannot permit the whole truth to get out, namely, that the Internet is tearing the guts right out of government's con game and turning the people against it. The disconnect is absolutely amazing!
Two versions of reality are competing side-by-side, and we know which side PBS is on.
May we conclude with an unspoken truth that the people are being drawn closer and closer to the point where they are ready to utter the terrible words, "nullification" and "secession" without fear?
Posted by him2 on 02/02/13 01:19 AM
As an old, old statistician, I see the attitude of the people in these figures a little differently.
There is a kind of placebo effect in place in all such things - the magic of 25% that lets the Pharmas sell such dangerous products and which can confound legitimate research:
25% of the population die in epidemics (real ones, that is)
25% of the population smokes (and are self-replacing as they die. They don't die out. A miracle for the tobacco companies).
25% of the population are literally thoughtless. (Think for a moment: smokers!)
There is this "bottom" 25% and they are the non-active 25% in this research!
100% of the real population is totally against the Government!
So how come nothing is done to change things?
(Time for my nap here in the land of Oz)
Posted by clark on 02/02/13 01:15 AM
Saffire29979 asked, "are the elites trying to make African Americans angry at whites?"
It seems that way. And then some. And vise versa.
Puppets; it's as if there's no such thing as puppets,... and puppeteering isn't possible. It's always the puppets fault. Nevermind Oz.
Posted by clark on 02/02/13 01:08 AM
1776 asked, "I would like to also know where are the angels in government?"
I know of some, they have been deceived into combating waste fraud and abuse, as if they are slaying the dragon - only - their actions have made it stronger and they are being corrupted by the system. Much to their regret and shame. Some don't even know now, does that make them clovers or dupes?
It's a sad situation and I'm sorry to say I've added to it.
They are Not a fairy tale written by bureaucrats, they are Very real, and very marginalized.
The latest waste of time: have you heard about the auditors who found the FBI to be a great big F-up in the Madison, Wisconsin gun snafu?
I didn't think so. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. [It's sad how that's a common saying.]
I don't know everything, but dang-it, I know Some things!
It's like a freaking jigsaw puzzle.
But then again, life Is an illusion, one way or another.
Click to view link
Posted by Saffire29979 on 02/02/13 01:08 AM
Lincoln, Django Unchained, the upcoming "Uncle Ruckus" movie... are the elites trying to make African Americans angry at whites? Seems possible.
Posted by taxesbyanyothername on 02/02/13 01:07 AM
It will be very bad, of that I am sure but a police state will not make it better, of that I am just as sure. The actions taken by the federal government that ensure financial collapse are too numerous to even list. Even so, we will not turn into something akin to Mad Max unless the government forces it upon us. Except perhaps in large cities. If you are in Manhattan and TSHTF, take a boat. Since you have said that you bought farm land, I assume, you will be ok. However, TPTB have made it clear that they want a much smaller population world wide, and they have made, and continue making massive preparations for violence here. Just the fact that they have allowed the genetic manipulation of the H5N1 virus so as to make it easily transmisable between humans, while retaining all of its virulence should give you pause.
Even if every bad thing TPTB might want to happen does, some will survive. Hopefully, they will rid themselves of the inhuman garbage that caused it, before they rebuild.
Perhaps the catastrophy won't be as bad as we think. Whether it is or not, it is the only chance that I can see of getting out from under. We have to make enough people see before they shut us up.
Posted by Danny B on 02/01/13 11:18 PM
"Repealing the Patriot Act is a good place to start but it is not nearly enough. "
You've probably read the opinions of Mava, Craig jr. and myself. Mava refers to the future as a "smoldering ruin"
So, while it might be nice to contemplate the rollback of the police state, you have to consider why the police state is being initiated. Much of the West is headed for total ruin and destruction. Consider; if GOV feels that a total police state is necessary, should you agree and prepare OR should you just figure that GOV is panicked for no reason.
GOV liabilities increase by about $ 7 trillion a year. GOV proposed the trillion dollar coin because the FED won't inflate to the (GOV) required level. One would suspect that multi-trillion printing is necessary for GOV to continue. The FED only increased their balance sheet to about $ 3 trillion. This is chicken-feed compared to expenditures.
If GOV feels that a police state is necessary, you might be well advised to trust them on that. They have the best information. If you examine the financial outlays of the welfare-warfare state, you can see that it can't continue indefinitely.
GOV expects to default. GOV feels that it needs a police state.
It's not so much the existence of a police state that is the major concern.
The major concern is; will there be a future SO BAD that a police state is necessary?