Congress and the Decline of Public Trust by Joseph Cooper

By Joseph Cooper

Since the time of Watergate and Vietnam, belief in govt has fallen precipitously. this may simply be sensed within the apathy and divisiveness that now signify American politics, however it may be such a lot truly published in ballot facts. the nice majority of american citizens don't belief the govt. “to do what’s correct all or lots of the time”. Nor do they think that govt is administered for “the advantage of all” instead of for “a few colossal interests”. The 9 essays during this quantity element the current personality of mistrust, study its factors, examine the risks it poses for the way forward for consultant govt within the usa, and recommend remedies.The concentration of the research is on Congress as a result of its pivotal position in consultant govt within the usa. The authors additionally learn styles of belief in societal associations and belief within the Presidency, particularly in mild of the Clinton impeachment controversy. as the reasons and results of mistrust are advanced and pervasive, the person chapters spotlight some of the defining gains and problems with modern American politics. those comprise the emergence of a politics that's way more ideological, candidate headquartered, and captive to curiosity teams, the altering personality and superior significance of the media, the mounting bills of campaigns, the contradictions in public attitudes towards political leaders and tactics, the factors and outcomes of public misconceptions of democratic politics, and the necessity for reform in crusade finance, media practices, and civic education.

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Extra resources for Congress and the Decline of Public Trust

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Because it is easy and quite human for dected and non-elected officials to see the ways in which p~lblicdistrust reRects both ignorance of the facts and misunderstanding of the constraints on decisionmaking, the increased distrust vczters have far politicians and bureaucrats generates increased distrust among politiicans and bureaucrats for the public (Sirnendinger, 1998; Pew Research Center, 1998b). In addition, because much of the pubjic now equates effective leadership with the presence of good times and no longer assigns much weight to the connection traditionauj~made between personal character and effective leadership, there is a widespread inclination tc> see pc~fiticians primarily as political technicians (MaiseX, 1998; Mrattenberg, 19911.

These katures stem from the high degree to which declines in trust and expectations have reitzforced one another itz a context in which it is more difficult than ever to find effective solutic~nsto the natic~n"prchlems through the processes of representative government, More important, they suggest that in recent decades traditional patterns of cycling with respect to distrust have been disrrtpted, that the ebb-and-flow pattern that has characterized distrust in every era of our history has been frozen at a stage in which distrust is very high.

29). , 1972;WiLson, t 951 ). As a final example, less than two years after the end of World W r 11, George Gallup wrote that "the public sickns and trrrns its head away from the very thought of politics" m d "would rather see their children work as street sweepers than besmirch themselves in politics" (Wilst~n,1951, p. 242). Ncrr does history provide the only testimony to the fact that distrust in American democracy is a comptex problem, not a simple one. A recent &W Research Center survey (1998a) that compares distrust in the United States and stable Western E~lroyeandemocracies reveals some striEng similarities, strongly suggesting that stable democratic orders invariably blend elements of trust and distrust, The character and consequences of public trust ir-t American democracy thus pose a p-~lzzle that we are a long way fmm solving (Nye and Zelikt~w,1997).

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