The emails that WikiLeaks released showing how the DNC (Democratic National Committee) colluded with mainstream media (MSM) as well as working against the other Democratic candidate for Presidency, Bernie Sanders, clearly demonstrated why Americans might distrust politics and subsequently those in government.
In addition, the 2016 Presidential election shined a brilliant spotlight on various departments of the government and for many people corruption became a pivotal voting point. Closer scrutiny of the inner workings of various government agencies became part of the conversation (1).
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were shrouded in possible wrong doings as the Hillary Clinton email scandal escalated with secret meetings and the exposure of hacked emails. It became evident to many Americans that the elitists weren’t held accountable by the same laws as the average American.
The pre- and post-election news broke daily with statements that Russia was responsible for the DNC hacks, while on December 15, 2016, Julian Assange told Sean Hannity of Fox News in a telephone conversation that Russia wasn’t behind the email hacks. Yet, mainstream media continued to push the “fake news” of a Russian attempt to interfere with the Presidential election.
Jumping on board the Russia hacked DNC and RNC train was supposedly 17 federal intelligence agencies led by the CIA, yet the FBI wasn’t drawing the same conclusions. Then, the worm turned and the FBI got on board the official dialogue and finally, President Obama gave his stamp of approval to the claims.
Yet, everyone asked why now, when the President knew about the suspicions of Russian hacking in 2015. Most Americans understand political posturing. However, those making these moves don’t understand how tired the majority of Americans are of this kind of politics.
Government and Mainstream Media Fake News
Another reason for the government having lost the confidence of Americans is the issue of false and fake news generated by not just the media but the government.
American Intelligence Reporter quoted Ron Paul’s response to RT America, “The fake news comes from our own government…” He also explained why Donald Trump did so well and defeated Hillary Clinton, “… they’ve [Americans] lost confidence in the government.” (2)
And amid all these swirling controversies of government agencies and the mainstream media is the average American who doesn’t believe anything either camp says. Why is that? Track records. The higher echelon of government agencies and the ivory tower of Congress failed “we, the people.”
The “fake news” (polls) generated by the mainstream media favoring Hillary Clinton as the winner of the 2016 Presidential election left many Democrats stunned when Donald Trump won. Yet, post-election these same MSM began crying “fake news” about anything that didn’t fit their agenda. The result has been a large majority of Americans distrusting MSM and referencing it as a propaganda machine, pointing to their pre-election hype and biased news reporting throughout the entire election season.
Polls and Surveys Show Confidence Level Falling
According to a Gallup Poll, the confidence level of Americans for all three branches has been dropping since 2012. The most disturbing is perhaps the confidence level in the presidency. In 2014, it reached the lowest it has ever been under President Barack Obama. What makes this drop stand out even more is the 2009 confidence level for all three branches saw a jump when President Obama first took office (3).
November 2015, the Pew Research Center, US Politics & Policy reported that the “American public is deeply cynical about government, politics and the nation’s elected leaders in a way that has become quite familiar.” (4)
Some statistics quoted included:
- Only 19% trust the government either always or most of the time (lowest levels in the last 50 years).
- Only 20% described government programs as well-run.
The lowest regard for government were elected officials. PEW reports that a whopping 55% believe “ordinary Americans” could solve the country’s problems better than the politicians.
Generally, the public is frustrated with the present government.
- 20%: Feel the federal government programs well run.
- 59%: Feel that “Very major reform” is needed.
The public views of government are a mixed bag often filled with contradictions. The PEW survey of 10-13 areas revealed that overall, the ratings for government performance were “more positive than negative.”
The issues that the majority of Americans felt the government needed to remedy were:
- Disaster response
- Environmental issues
Yet, the PEW also reports that the majority of Americans like the way many of these areas are handled. The explanation for this contradiction is the difficulty in trying to categorize how the public feels about the government. Still, the PEW states that the majority of people don’t approve of the way the federal government deals with immigration and poverty.
The Partisan Divide
Much of the ratings that were negative could be identified as being partisan driven.
- 34% Republicans: Believe government “does a good job in strengthening the economy”.
- 68% Democrats: Believe government “does a good job in strengthening the economy”.
The PEW reports that the two parties both agree than when it comes to “helping people get out of poverty” only 30% Republicans and 42% Democrats approve of the federal government’s efforts to raise people out of poverty.
These statistics were then broken down to the amount of support for government involvement. This revealed a huge difference between the Democrats and Republicans that further divide and define the philosophy of the parties.
- 72% Democrats support bigger government to oversee this issue.
- Only 36% Republicans believe government should play this kind of large role.
The lowest ratings surrounding the issue of immigration showed only 15% of Republicans approve government management of immigration. Not surprisingly, the Democrats’ rating is higher, but still not spectacular with only 4 out of 10 Democrats approving of the government’s track record.
It’s All about Trust
Ultimately, confidence in the government stems from trust or a lack of trust. The two parties were polled and revealed that “large majorities” of both parties replied, “They can seldom, if ever, trust the federal government.”
- Republicans: 89% don’t trust the government.
- Democrats: 72% don’t trust the government.
Both sides agree (59%) that “major reform” is needed in the government.
One of the lowest scores centered on elected officials. PEW pointed out that historically an overall feeling of distrust and disconnect between elected officials and the people they represent is expected. Responders faulted elected officials as simply being out of touch with average Americans.
A devastating 74% of those surveyed commented that elected officials “put their own interests ahead of the nation’s.”
PEW states that one belief was “shared by a majority of the public – that ‘ordinary Americans’ could do a better job than they [elected officials] could of solving the nation’s problems.”
Lack of Confidence in US Government
With the surveys and polls showing a declining confidence in the government, many experts believe 2016 voters were ready for a change and an outsider like Donald Trump created the perfect storm in the election for change. If timing is everything, then President-Elect Trump was at the right place at the right time to capitalize on these powerful sentiments of the American people not having confidence in their government, but wanting that confidence restored.