An Attitude to American Government


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“American lack of Trust”

Since the days of Nixon, American trust in government has sank significantly. The dishonesty of the Nixon administration broke the perceived notion of government that American’s held dear at the time. Several decades of perceived deceit, economic slumps and perceived lack of regulation of large, corporate entities, and feeling of being unable to influence modern government has dropped trust in government to a historical low.

Riding the popularity high of WWII and the end of the Great Depression, the times leading up to the Nixon administration held a more positive feeling of trust and patriotism towards government. After the start of the unpopular Vietnam War and the event of Watergate, American faith in the government suffered greatly. The years following held a trend of slight ups and then deep declines during several administrations. Regan and Bush Sr’s time had a downward trend until Clinton, but another decline after his perceived dishonesty relating to Monica Lewinsky. Trust in government reached a significant height after 9-11, but soon plummeted as revelations came to light showing that the administration had involved itself with Iraq with faulty intel involving weapons of mass destruction, knowingly. The shut down of government under Barak Obama due to the Affordable Healthcare Act only further deteriorated trust.

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Though the dishonesty of several administrations and Congress led to the decline in trust, their policies and lack of oversights had similar effect. The recession under Reagan due to “Reaganomics” and borrowing against the future inflating national debt. George Bush Sr’s recession at the end of his popular Gulf Wars. Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and his attempt to cover it up. Housing market crash under George Bush Jr and the issuance of bailout money to banks was a very unpopular choice. The choice for Congress to allow for the shutdown of US Government in a protest of Barak Obama’s ACA that led to many government employees to feel the financial hit as well as showing the ugliness of the government budgeting used as a political tool and the large pinch to the economy that involve the avoidance of increasing the debt ceiling. Leading to several government funded organizations to be affected via budgets and the economy itself losing a large amount of money estimated into the billions [1] during the shutdown.

The change is values seen by the American people and the stronger influences of lobbying affected their feelings of control of their government. No longer feeling their votes matter and voices no longer heard. Government hiding secrets and working for the people only on the surface. The increases of petitions to declassify information on the rise in recent years reflecting the sentiment on secrets held by the government. The sales of arms to countries that are known to harbor terrorists. The arming and training of the Taliban that ended up working against our troops during the Afghan war. Even recently calls that Russians colluding with politicians to gain an edge in elections further eroding the faith in the government.

There is a correlation between the political culture and waning trust. Two major parties running most of the campaigns and have a hand in voting districts has restricted voters for decades. Both parties have changed popular policies for the sake of pleasing lobbyists and have time and again shown childish bickering instead of collaborative behaviors when working out policy. The dividing of people on spectrum of political affiliations is seemingly encouraged by both parties and “us versus them” ideologies are common on the television and radio. It’s not uncommon to see personal insults against political rivals and pushes for investigations that knowingly go nowhere to weaken support. Some cases, as was the case with Democrats, popular party choices were suppressed by the party itself due to party leaders preferring one candidate over the other ignoring popular support. Actively sabotaging the most recent candidate, Bernie Sanders.

Though trust in the government has waned significantly over the past decades due to recessions, scandals, and feelings of no longer having a government that works for the people, there are trends of great support from the people in times of crisis. Such as in the case of 9-11 that unified political parties and brought the people to support the war effort against enemies overseas. There may be hope that people will feel they can trust the government again in coming years with the election of officials that break the mold of previous leaders and with more transparency in later administrations.

[1] “Here’s How a Government Shutdown Hurts the American People”. The White House Blog. Retrieved October 1, 2013

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