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May 5, 2010
By Jodie Allen, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Anti-government crusaders have found ample confirmation in a recent Pew Research Center poll showing that Americans’ trust in government is about as low as it has been in half a century: only 22 percent now say they can trust the government in Washington almost always or most of the time. Support for a more activist government role in addressing national problems continues to decline along with satisfaction with the state of the nation’s economy.
Discontent with government performance is not, however, a new story in this land of ours. With the exception of a brief “rally round the flag” dip post-9/11, about the same relatively small majority of the public (now some 56 percent) has said they were frustrated with the federal government since the ’90s. Still, as the report notes, the segment of the public that holds intense anti-government views--those saying that they are “angry” at the feds--while still small, now matches the high reached in October 2006 (20 percent).
But while other major institutions have not been the focus of organized protests for irate citizens, many score no higher than the government on the public’s report card. Banks, financial institutions, and large corporations earn no more positive rating than the feds in terms of their effects on the way things are going in the country.
And, as is often the case with regard to Americans’ views of public policy, the story gets somewhat more complicated when you get down to specific cases.