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Declining trust in our government

Declining Trust in Our Government

Is the American people's trust in our government declining? According to

most people, it definitely is. Recent polls make this argument very valid. In

1995, the Princeton Survey Research Associates conducted a telephone interview

of 1514 random sample adults. In this interview, people were asked how much of

the time they trusted in the federal government to do the right thing. Twenty-

one percent said most of the time and seventy-one percent said only some of the

time. When asked the same question of their state governments, the results

were only slightly better. Thirty percent said most of the time and sixty-two

percent said only some of the time ("Why Don't"). This indicates that a

majority of the American people believe that the American government is not

doing the right thing in a lot of the actions it takes. Of course, nobody

expects the government to operate perfectly with no mistakes, because this is

not a perfect world. These numbers are too high though. What caused this

problem in the United States, what is the extend of this problem in our country,

and is this distrust of our government even a serious problem at all? These are

three questions that need to be addressed in out society today.

What really has caused the American people to distrust our government and

when did this trend actually begin? I do not believe there is any clear answer

to these questions and I do not believe it would ever be possible to pinpoint

any exact reason for the feelings of the American people. One reason cited by

some is that it is the fault of poor leaders. Two commonly blamed leaders are

President Johnson and President Nixon. Two of the biggest drops in the public's

confidence in our government occurred in 1964, during the bombing of Vietnam,

and in 1972, during Watergate (Nye). Although these two events may have

contributed to the distrust of the American government, I do not believe that

two events and two leaders can be held totally responsible. For one thing,

these things occurred over twenty years ago, why is there still distrust today.

Not only does this distrust still exist, but many would say that it has

increased greatly since then. I do not thing that two leaders can be pinpointed

and blamed for destroying the trust in our government. Perhaps though the blame

could be laid on American political leaders in general. In a 1995 poll, thirty-

five percent said the main reason that they do not trust the federal government

is that politicians lack honesty and integrity. Another twenty-four percent

cited the reason for their distrust as politicians not being concerned with the

interests and well-being of the people ("Why Don't"). It makes sense that if

the American's do not trust the people who make up our government, then they

will not trust the government as a whole.

Just how wide spread is the problem of distrust in the American government?

The Post/ABC News polling organization ran seven different polls between 1985-

1987 asking, "How much of the time do you trust the government in Washington to

do what is right?" Those saying only some of the time or never ranged from

fifty-six to sixty-two percent (Dewey). A 1994 poll showed that only fifteen

percent of the American public had confidence in our federal government and only

thirty percent had confidence in their state and local governments. Some people

may want to believe that distrust of the United States government is limited to

only a small segment of the population, such as the lower class. These polls

indicate otherwise. It appears that a vast majority of Americans have very

little trust in our political leaders. It is clear distrust of the government

is wide spread, but is it a serious problem?

Does it matter if the people do not trust their government or is it

something that should be expected? Many people state that the cynicism and

distrust in America are not a problem at all. One opinion is that a mistrust of

government has been around since our countries beginning and is nothing to worry

about. It is even noted that our country was founded with a mistrust of

government, in particular, mistrust of King George of England (Nye). Another

opinion is that even though Americans do not trust the every day activities of

the government, there is still a very positive attitude about the underlying

constitutional principles that this country was founded upon, and that is the

most important thing to consider. Eighty percent of Americans consider the

United States the best place in the world to live and ninety percent say that

they like the democratic system of government (Nye). Also, not every aspect of

American government is mistrusted by the American people. They military, for

example, has greatly improved its ratings from the time after Vietnam to the

period after the Gulf War (Nye). Seventy percent of Americans say that they

have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in our military according to a

1995 poll ("Why Don't"). This indicates that there is still hope for citizens

to gain back trust is our government.

It is evident that overall there is a mistrust in our government in the

United States. This is something that has become very wide spread in the United

States. The majority of people do not trust our government. It is unclear what

caused this trend, but it can certain be related to the type of politicians that

are being elected in our country and the people's feelings towards those

officials. Although some do not believe it is really a problem, it would be

nice to be able to place some faith and trust is the people who lead and direct

this country. It appears that the only way to do that is to elect individual

people that we can trust and the only way to accomplish that is to become

educated on the issues and vote.

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