Overnight Open Thread | Main | Top Headline Comments 4-19-10
April 19, 2010

Pew Research: 80% of Americans Don't Trust Government

But that whole Tea-Party thing, it's really just a marginal movement, doesn't reflect anything like a large number of Americans.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they do not trust the U.S. 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.

The statists resent the hell of of this sentiment, which is kind of amusing since a few years ago you couldn't get through the day without hearing screechy complaints about "abuse of power" by the last administration.

I find this refreshing, it reflects of one of the foundational elements of our government as established by the founders, who sought while creating a government and establishing its power, to also constrain the power of that government and hold it accountable to the governed. Madison described this balance in Federalist 51: "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

I don't mean to suggest that the latest frustrations expressed by Americans in government aren't also a result of our experiences. We see widespread incompetence, inability to foresee unintended consequences, and sloppy spending with little accountability and unimpressive results.

But Americans also have a sense of wariness about government that is part of our heritage, and it's a good thing to hold onto regardless of which party or President happens to be in power at any given moment.


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posted by Dave In Texas at 09:19 AM

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