A vast majority of Americans today do not believe their federal government is trustworthy.
Their feelings were not caused by the current scandals — be it Benghazi, the snooping on reporters, the “spying” on Americans, or the IRS targeting of conservative not for profits.
Over a period of the last several years we have seen erosion in the confidence in government by the people and it is lasting and sustained.
Americans were feeling a distrust of government prior to President Obama’s re-election campaign, perhaps as far back as April 2010.
This is what Reuter’s reported under the headline, “Majority of Americans Distrust the Government” on Apr 19, 2010:
“Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they do not trust the government to do what is right, expressing the highest level of distrust in Washington in half a century, according to a public opinion survey.
"Only 22 percent of Americans say they trust the government ‘just about always’ or ‘most of the time,’ according to the Pew Research Center survey released on Sunday.
"Americans' trust in the federal government has been on a steady decline from a high of 73 percent during the Eisenhower administration in 1958, when the ‘trust’ question was first posed in a national survey, the research center said.
"Economic uncertainty, a highly partisan environment and overwhelming discontent with Congress and elected officials were all factors contributing to the current wave of public distrust, the report said.
"The long, bitter debate over the healthcare law that President Barack Obama signed last month made negative feeling about government, particularly Congress, even worse, according to the report based on a series of surveys of some 5,000 people.
"About 25 percent had a favorable opinion of Congress, the lowest in 25 years of surveying, and less than half (40 percent) said the Obama administration was doing an excellent or good job, Pew said.
"Americans were found to be more frustrated than angry, with 56 percent expressing frustration with the federal government, compared with 21 percent who said they were angry.”
In 2011 — with only a year to go before the 2012 Presidential Election — The New York Times cited the results of a Times/CBS News poll in concluding that “a deep sense of economic anxiety and doubt about the future hangs over the nation,” with Americans’ distrust of government at its highest level ever.
“The combustible climate helps explain the volatility of the presidential race and has provided an opening for protest movements like Occupy Wall Street to highlight grievances about banks, income inequality and a sense that the poor and middle class have been disenfranchised,” the Times said.
“Not only do 89 percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing, but 74 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 84 percent disapprove of Congress — warnings for Democrats and Republicans alike," the newspaper reported.
The president’s approval rating at the time the poll was taken was 46 percent.
In January of 2013, after the second Inaugural of President Obama this is what the pew Research Center reported under the banner, “Majority Says The Federal Government Threatens Their Personal Rights:”
“As Barack Obama begins his second term in office, trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.
More recently the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, revealed that 53 percent of Americans think that the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms while only 43 percent disagreed. Those findings were based on a survey conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,502 adults.
The survey also confirmed the continued widespread distrust in government with about a quarter of Americans (26 percent) reporting that they trust the government in Washington to do the right thing just about always, or most of the time, and 73 percent saying they can trust the government only some of the time, or not at all.
Only 20 percent of Americans say they are basically content with the federal government, while 58 percent say they are frustrated and 19 percent say they are angry. For the most part, these views have changed little during Obama’s presidency.
The same survey found that the percentage expressing anger at government had reached 26 percent. Only 19 percent said they trusted the government at least most of the time.
Fast forward to May 2013.
A Q Poll reported that only 3 percent of voters trust the federal government to do the right thing almost all the time, while 12 percent say they trust it most of the time. Some 47 percent say they trust government some of the time and 36 percent hardly ever trust government.
The president’s current approval rating is at 45 percent.
A fear or distrust of government is unhealthy and dangerous to our national fabric and paralyzes the ability of our leaders to govern.
Then Sen. Obama, said the following with regard to trust and confidence in government back in August of 2006:
"If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists — to protect them and to promote their common welfare — all else is lost."
President Obama promised the most open and transparent government our nation has ever known and instead he has presided over the most clandestine, secretive and now scandal-ridden government in recent memory.
Instead of presiding over a nation that respects, appreciates and trusts government, the president has presided over a nation that disrespects, fears and distrusts the government that is supposed to serve it.
When a vast majority of Americans — regardless of party affiliation — believe their government is not trustworthy we have a crisis of confidence that unless reversed will be devastating to our nation.
Winning back the people’s trust and confidence will take leadership and time — something President Obama has little of remaining.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.
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