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How much do you trust your government?


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This seems like a legitimate question to ask, but one that I am not sure I or anyone else has a good answer to. I have long since discovered that the politicians who represent me are pretty much great, but the ones who represent you, well maybe not so much. I do think it is safe to say that there is a growing number of people in this country who do not trust their government, especially on a federal level. So, I have to raise the point again and ask, should we trust our government?

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NPR has a good story from All Things Considered last evening that touches on this very topic. In it, they cite a Pew Research Center poll that says only 22% of all Americans say they trust their government. By my count, that leaves 78% of all Americans who do not trust their government, especially on a federal level. Am I the only one who finds these numbers disturbing?

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Government TrustWhen you look back on the past decade, you can see only one time when the level of distrust was lower than this. That was during the last days of the George W. Bush administration and admittedly, a lot of it was deserved. Rightly or wrongly, the American people felt that they had been lied to about the Iraq war and most of that distrust was aimed squarely at Bush himself, along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. To be honest, it’s hard to argue against how the American people felt at that time, although the level of hatred and vitriol directed at them was a bit harsh.

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When Barack Obama took office, a large portion of the American people watched with great hope, thinking that he would be able to change the way Washington worked. After a year in office, it is clear that Washington is still working as it usually does. The blame for the President’s failure to instigate that change rests in more than one place, but some of it has to fall at Obama’s own feet. His party, which is the party of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, did not help matters in the least.

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I have looked at this as honestly as I know how and I feel Barack ObamaGovernment Logo came into office thinking that as President, he would be able to affect many more changes than he was actually able to affect. He was a bit naive to think so, but I suspect he isn’t the first man to move into the White House and suddenly discover that his was not an easy task. Part of his problem has been that he has moved very fast with a lot of his agenda, especially when it comes to health care reform.

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Part of the distrust that is now leveled at the Obama administration has to be blamed on the way the health care legislation was rammed through Congress. Also, consider how said health care legislation is going to be implemented and the mandate enforced. The enforcement is to rest solely with the most hated and distrusted government agency in our country, namely, the Internal Revenue Service. That alone is enough to make me want to run as far away as possible.

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The distrust of the Bush White House arose from the feeling that the American people had been lied to, as I have already alluded. The distrust that is now arising against the Obama White House comes in large part from the feeling that the American people have just had an unconstitutional mandate pressed upon them by a government that has refused to listen to it’s own people. Put the IRS into the mix and is it any wonder that the level of distrust is at it’s highest point since the end of the Bush era? I think not.

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Looking back on the years that I have followed politics and watched closely how our government works, I have came to one conclusion. It seems to matter not which political party is in power, be it the Republicans or Democrats. Washington seems to never change and until it does, the level of distrust aimed in their direction is going to ebb and flow. Right now, it is mostly ebbing.

About LD Jackson

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LD Jackson has written 2053 posts in this blog.

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Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

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  • Trait

    LD, you pose a very interesting question here. Honestly, I think the response to the question depends on how it is framed. As you said, when most people personally get to know their representatives, they tend to trust them. That’s only natural. We trust what we understand. However, when we think of a faceless, conglomerated entity like “the government,” it’s too big to wrap our arms around. Thus, we don’t trust it.

    I have worked in “the government” before. The vast majority of the people who work in it are tireless, dedicated public servants who have the best interests of the people in mind. In most cases, they get paid far too little for the hours of work they put in and the tasks they perform. What we need to understand is that the government is us. It’s our neighbors, friends, and relatives. It’s fraught with the same foibles and failings that we possess individually. I think if people understood this, they would be more hesitant to be afraid of “the government” and more willing to help it be successful in enacting the policy that governs our lives.
    .-= Trait´s last blog ..Things I’ve Learned About Myself =-.

    • Thanks for commenting, Trait. You make some very good points, especially that the “government” is actually us. I had not thought of it in that context, but it is true. Maybe it would help if we all tried to remember that.

  • Mike

    Very good post Larry and a terrific response from Trait. Your comment that people like their own representatives but dislike everybody elses is bang on and makes you wonder exactly how change can be accomplished. But the amswer is simple: one vote at a time. That’s one of the problems I have with the vitriol from some extremists who want change NOW…with an implied OR ELSE attached to the end of it. That’s not the way the election process typically works though the 2008 election was certainly an eye-opener in that regard. The government is us — I really like that one.

  • I am a pretty hardcore conservative. I always have been. I have always believed that we end up with the government we deserve. If we as citizens do not take the time to evaluate each candidate with a critical eye, then turn around and complain that the government cannot be trusted; we the people are the ones at fault. I will continue my journey to find candidates that follow and respect our Constitution. For too long we have be asleep and now when we are just waking up, we are seeing just how much things have changed. And most of us do not like what we see. The hardest part to accept is that we are partly to blame for this mess. Great post Larry.
    .-= John Carey´s last blog ..Scarey Stance =-.

    • Thanks for the comment, John. It is so true that we are partly to blame for the shape our country is in and for how our government operates. For much too long, far too many of us have been asleep at the wheel.

  • Steve Dennis

    I suppose that it won’t come as a surprise to you to learn that I do not trust this administration at all. The healthcare reform bill drained from me any illusion that I might have had thay the government still works for us. The way they passed this bill, knowing that the American people opposed it, was so underhanded and shady that I just don’t believe they care about what we want. What is to stop this administration from passing anything they want to by any means regardless of what the American people want?

    • I think that is a legitimate question, Steve and one that begs an answer. As I mentioned in the post, the way the health care reform bill was passed only added to the feeling of distrust. It does make one wonder what they will try next.