American Trust in Government at All-Time Lows
The latest Gallup poll shows a record 81 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed.
Gallup’s Lydia Saad:
Majorities of Democrats (65%) and Republicans (92%) are dissatisfied with the nation’s governance. This perhaps reflects the shared political power arrangement in the nation’s capital, with Democrats controlling the White House and U.S. Senate, and Republicans controlling the House of Representatives. Partisans on both sides can thus find fault with government without necessarily blaming their own party.
The takeaways are all pretty scary:
- 82% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.
- 69% say they have little or no confidence in the legislative branch of government, an all-time high and up from 63% in 2010.
- 57% have little or no confidence in the federal government to solve domestic problems, exceeding the previous high of 53% recorded in 2010 and well exceeding the 43% who have little or no confidence in the government to solve international problems.
- 53% have little or no confidence in the men and women who seek or hold elected office.
- Americans believe, on average, that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every tax dollar, similar to a year ago, but up significantly from 46 cents a decade ago and from an average 43 cents three decades ago.
- 49% of Americans believe the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. In 2003, less than a third (30%) believed this.
Politically speaking, this would seem to be bad news for incumbents and good news for Tea Party types. Societally speaking, this is just bad news, period.
That President Obama has low approval numbers (41 percent in the latest Gallup poll) is hardly surprising, given the state of the economy, the general mood of the country, and a perception even among his fellow Democrats that he’s a weak leader. But we’re at or near historic highs in disapproval of all our institutions of government. And the news media, too. Our political environment is simply toxic right now, with no signs of getting better any time soon.
Tea Party leaders, though, have to be ecstatic. With majorities believing that the federal government is simultaneously incompetent, wasteful, and dangerous, the message of radical downsizing and shifting of power back to the states is resonating in a way it hasn’t since before the Great Depression.