Eric Zuesse: Gallup Finds Stunning Decline in Americans’ Respect for U.S. Government
On June 9th, Gallup’s Editor-In-Chief, Frank Newport, headlined “Americans Want More Than Just Budget Cuts” and reported that, “Gallup’s latest update shows that 28% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the federal government, while 55% have an unfavorable opinion. That’s the lowest rating for any business or industry sector we tested.” Here are the details on that net minus 27% (55% minus 28%) favorability-rating by Americans for “The federal government”:
Dr. Newport then points out that, the last time when Gallup had reported about Americans’ opinions of Congress, which was on 28 September 2015, “The More Americans Know Congress, the Worse They Rate It”; and, specifically, that, whereas only 7% of Americans who answered either 4 or 5 out of five questions about Congress correctly were rating Congress either “Excellent” or “Good,” a far higher 27% of Americans who had answered none of the five questions correctly were rating Congress either “Excellent” or “Good.” 29% of Americans who had answered zero questions correctly were rating Congress as either “Poor” or “Bad,” but a far higher 66% of Americans who had answered either 4 or 5 of the questions correctly were rating Congress as “Poor” or “Bad.” Consequently, “The Knowledgeable Are the Most Negative About Congress” according to Gallup’s latest available information, published there.
The basic point in Dr. Newport’s June 9th article is that the reason why Americans dislike “The federal government” isn’t that it’s ‘too big’ or ‘spends too much money’ or any of the other excuses that the (widely despised) Republican Party claims, but is instead that, “Americans think that Congress is corrupt and not focused on the interests of the people. They want their representatives to compromise rather than rigidly stick to principles.”
By “principles” there, might be meant such things as ‘a balanced budget’ or ‘cutting spending’ (as Republicans would like to be hearing), but it might also mean ‘consideration and decent treatment of the poor’ (as Democrats would like to be hearing); and, so, in a survey such as this, it is really meaningless overall.
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What is far more meaningful was Gallup’s survey about Americans’ perceptions about corruption in Congress: 52% thought that “Most members” of Congress are corrupt, but only 32% thought that their own particular member of Congress is corrupt. Obviously, if the perceptions on that matter had been correct nationwide, and 52% of Congress is corrupt, then 52% of the survey’s respondents should have been saying that their own Representative in Congress is corrupt. In other words: the U.S. public are widely deceived to believe that their own Representative is not corrupt but that a substantial majority (52% saying that Congress is “Corrupt,” versus only 42% saying it’s “Not corrupt”) believe that “Congress” is corrupt.
Gallup’s 28 September 2015 report about perceptions of Congress made note, also, that there was an extraordinary jump in 2006 in the percentage saying that “Most members are corrupt,” from 38% saying that in 2005, up to 47% saying that in 2006. After 2006, the percentages saying that, rose only slightly. Perhaps 2006 was a post-Iraq-invasion syndrome, in which increasing numbers of Americans came to distrust the U.S. government that, in retrospect, had clearly lied and invaded Iraq under false pretenses. The Gallup Poll’s findings about Americans’ perceptions regarding the question “In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time?” first peaked at 61% right before the invasion, in the poll taken on “3/3-5/03” or March 3-5 of 2003, then subsided a bit but finally rose even higher, to 62%, in the poll taken during “8/22-25/05” or August 22-15 of 2005, and then it stayed generally above that and briefly soared into the 80s during 2011, but is now in the high 60s, still slightly higher than the post-Iraq-invasion disillusionment period.
In any case, what seems clear is that Americans now strongly dislike ‘our’ federal government and generally consider it to be “corrupt” or not really “our” government, but instead to be somehow “their” government of “us.” And, also obviously, if this long-term trend continues, then the American public will be heading into a pre-revolutionary condition, and, beyond that, into a revolutionary one. If the existing long-term trend continues, then the result will be either the overthrow of the U.S. federal government, or else a lock-down of first the Internet and then the public, at a time of already overcrowded prisons. Of course, when there is not space to accommodate additional prisoners, then military compounds become resorted to — and martial law.
No longer is it at all reasonable to characterize the United States as a stable democracy. It’s certainly not stable now; and, also, it’s certainly not a democracy. And the present long-term trend is in the wrong direction.
The United States is certainly a country that is currently heading into some kind of convulsive transition — but, certainly, also, an extremely unpleasant transition, even if, somehow, one that can reach a stability which is better, not worse, than that of the earlier, post-WW-II, era of stability. And, of course, if it turns out to be a pre-WW-III transition, then the result will be catastrophic for the entire world.
The way that the U.S. federal government has responded to the current transition, up till now, is to continue the lies. But there is no certainty that that will continue to work, even for the people at the very top.
On Wednesday, June 14th, CNN bannered “GOP House Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition after shooting at baseball practice”, and identified “the alleged shooter as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois” whose posted “profile picture is a caricature of Bernie Sanders as Uncle Sam.” Contrary to the norm, that a hard-right Republican does such rabidly anti-government insanities, this particular perpetrator was, if anything, the exact opposite. But the harm was just as random, in either case. “At least five people including Scalise, the third ranking member of House Republican leadership as the majority whip, were hospitalized.” It’s no longer only Timothy McVeigh types who take their insanities out against a government that they increasingly disrespect. The hostility is becoming increasingly intense on both sides of the political spectrum. Obviously, this is a country that’s moving even farther toward totalitarian rule, away from democracy. Such bombers and gunmen are canaries in a coal mine, even if superficially they don’t seem at all alike. Each one is a sign of the times, and America has slid farther down the slippery slope in our time.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.