April 19th, 2010
02:21 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Radio: Examining American's level of trust in government

(CNN) - A Pew Research Center study released Sunday found that trust in government is at its lowest point in more than half a century.

The Pew survey comes as a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll also shows that trust in the federal government is about as low as it was in 1994, when Democrats lost control of Congress.

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato told CNN Radio's John Lisk that there have been many times when government has lost the trust of the people, usually over some scandal, such as Watergate.

In this situation, Sabato said that the frustration with government is due in part to a bad economy and dismay over the recently passed health care reform legislation.

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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. worriedmom

    Probably the same statistics for trusting the media!

    April 19, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  2. Dan, TX

    Oh for the good old days of Nixon where we knew we could believe in government.

    April 19, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Depends on the context. It's extremely vague as most people don't trust anyone or any organization, not ONLY the government. I trust the government a lot more than the private sector.

    April 19, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. Tom

    Regardless of what the polls say, the government will continue being unresponsive to the will and concerns of the people. They will always operate on the theory they know what's best for us, even though history has shown us they don't get it right.

    And, we'll keep electing the same dodos time after time so the government will never change.

    April 19, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. JA/TN

    my level of trust has been consistent, and i'm fifty-something, lots of people can't stand a man of color be president, they holler we want our country back (racial) and tote weapons a presidential rallies, unheard of

    April 19, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. gerryluimes

    Deserving what you donot get is different from receiving what you do NOT deserve. That is to say: People assume they deserve better government than what they have.They have forgotten to realize that they had the least to be trusted government during the last ten or so years.( Memories seem to be very short )
    Presently the cost of economic, and- peace- of mind- repair is very high and inevitably to be faced for years to come. It is unjust to deny the nationally existing fear of change,fear of personal adjustments necessary to be accepted.No present government is able to wave a magic wand and return near bankruptcy to wealth in the" blink of a eye"
    We simply must be prepared to be sufficiently mature to bite the bullet
    and to wait it out for another 6 to ten years.........
    gerry at edmonton.can.

    April 19, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. Independent Voter

    I am not in the least surprised. I am sure the distrust of government is at least partially explained by the economic downturn, but I would argue that the healthcare legislation is the primary motivator. The reason I say that is, to my mind, common sense. The Democrats in Washington, DC, have been treating Americans as if they are stupid. They hit the trail throughout 2009 trying to sell healthcare reform. The result? Americans were more against it when they passed it than before they started selling it. We were told by various Democrats that we would LOVE it after we found out more about it. That is why I say they treat Americans as if they are stupid. Americans know that the majority of the country was against the healthcare bill. Polls consistently showed that. Over and over again. The result? the Democrats passed it anyway. Basically, the government went against the will of the people. Now, we are highly ticked. The Democrats will experience a bloodbath in November. For all those driven to hyperbole, I do not mean a literal bloodbath. I mean an electoral bloodbath.

    April 19, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. Dean

    Kind of hard to trust your senator or house rep when they vote for a bill that they haven't read and don't know what it will do.

    April 19, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Actually, I doubt the government ever has had the support of the people, since WW II. The government has total disdain for the wishes of the people, and they know it.

    April 19, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  10. Smith in Oregon

    The two instances which reportedly triggered Tim McVeigh's decision to lash out at the federal government in an extremely violent action some 15 years ago in Oklahoma City were the following as he stated:

    1) The holocaust and massacre which caused the deaths of 82 men, women,children and two infant fetus's in Waco, Texas.

    2) Ruby Ridge where federal agents shot and killed the son and wife of Randy Weaver. Randy's son, Sam Weaver was shot in the back while returning to the mountain cabin, killed by a US Marshall after shooting Sam's dog and being fired at by Sam Weaver.

    Obviously no matter how over the top each of those two horrendous jack booted incidences evolved and turned-out, a lingering question regarding the massacre at Waco, Texas remains:

    It appears to be entirely against State Laws, Federal Laws and the Geneva Convention to Tear Gas anyone that is locked into a enclosed area. It is inherently dangerous to Tear Gas children regardless if they are in a open area or not due to their immature pulmonary capacity. There is a inherently high probability of a medical emergency occurring with nearly all children tear gassed in a locked in enclosed area.

    The Question Never Answered, Did US Attorney General Janet Reno break Federal laws in ordering the tear gassing of men, women, children and at least two infants who were locked down in a enclosed compound?

    April 19, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  11. Four and The Door

    Democrats took their 'historic' wins in 11/08 and stuck it to the American taxpayer. Promises that spending $1 trillion to stimulate the economy against great opposition proved empty. Promises that throwing $60 billion at the automobile industry proved empty. Promises that health care legislation would be bipartisan and not passed by reconciliation manuevers in the Senate proved empty. We have been lied to and the country is just farther in debt and headed for decades of greater debt. Obama is responsible for growing distrust and actual dislike of politicians in Washington.

    April 19, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. gt

    sure we dont trust them... look some of them as so old that they are a embrassement to the senate... it should be only one 6 yr for senate and 3 2yr for the house ,,, sen like sen. spector are only in it for them selves..

    April 19, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Distrust of American Government is not due to the economy, it's due to the hate and success of President Obama. There is no compareble distrust when Bush was President for 8 years vs. the less than 2 years Obama has been in office. So stop lying to me, I ain't buying it.

    April 19, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  14. The Other Michael in Houston

    Uh hey PEW, you didn't ask me nor did you ask anyone I know. We are pretty happy with our government and the direction it is going. Of course if all you poll are the sore losers in rural South Carolina, yes they will be unhappy, their guy lost and their worst nightmare came true, a black POTUS. How quickly does everyone forget, 53 million people did not want this administration, but over 70 million of us did. And the bad part about you 53 million is it is only going to get worse for you because there were millions more that wanted to vote for President Obama and did not, because until the final results came in , they never believed that America was going to allow a black man to become POTUS. So now all those people in addtion to us 70 million will show up in November 2010 and November 2012 to see to it that what President Obama has started will be finished. Say bye bye to the Republican Jihadist Establishment, hope you like lemon with your TEA!

    April 19, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  15. Steve

    Sabato you have it wrong. It is more about the government not caring about the working people, about the government divided and fighting, about the lies and fear that the government spreads, and then maybe about the slowly improving economy.

    April 19, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. Terry From West Texas

    I know that many Conservatives hate the government for some reason that they can never explain. I've never been able to figure out which part of the government is taking our liberties from us? The public library? The Marines? The weather bureau? The highway department? Restaurant health inspectors?

    Now it is true that when Ronald Reagan was elected, he doubled the national debt in 8 years. His successor, George Bush the Good One, overspent in four years as much as Reagan did in 8.

    Bill Clinton paid the debt down by a half trillion dollars.

    But then George Bush the Other One added $5.5 trillion to the debt. So, Reagan-Bush-Bush added $8.5 trillion to the National Debt, which was $1.5 trillion when Reagan was elected.

    Maybe that's the part they hate so much. I wish they would tell us.

    April 19, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |