Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. See main page for full contents

July 27, 2009


McClatchy Newspapers - If President Barack Obama got anything indisputably right at his news conference, it was this: The American people don't trust the federal government. . .

In the 1930s, they looked to the government for help in the Great Depression, and Franklin D. Roosevelt used that trust to drive through the New Deal program, creating Social Security and a host of government programs.

In the 1950s, they trusted Dwight Eisenhower when he wanted to build the Interstate Highway System.

In the early 1960s, they did, too, and Lyndon Johnson used it to create Medicare and to enact civil rights legislation and the rest of his Great Society agenda.

No longer, however.

From Vietnam through the Watergate scandal, the Iraq war and the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina, Americans have soured on the very thought that the government can do things well. That makes it immensely difficult to convince them - or their members of Congress - to go along with anything that even looks like a government takeover of health care. . .

In a recent survey for CBS and The New York Times, just one out five Americans said that they trusted the government to do the right thing all or most of the time, rivaling the lowest marks since the question was first asked in 1958.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There better be some show trials soon with public executions to follow, or the loss of trust will be complete.

July 27, 2009 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very sophisticated bullshit. The distrust of the federal government is contrast with the fervid embrace of the military. But the military is part of the federal government. This dischord somehow doesn't make everyone mind ring with painful confusion.

Absent from this article was any mention of the PR industry. They will proudly tell you that this bizarre zeitgeist was their doing. They have been working night and day for the last hundred years or so for just the right blending of distrust and obeisance.

The government is, at present, the only way regular people can reign in the business community. That's the REAL problem with it.

July 27, 2009 8:07 PM  
Anonymous don't fuck with me said...

I think you're wrong when you say the public embraces the military. Yes we love the kids who want to join the good guys and right the wrongs and be a hero. The unfortunate truth is that as it presently exists, the US military is a taxpayer funded hired gang to enforce the whims of America's richest and functionally stupidest. But some of us have been that stupid kid and we know what they're going through and guess what it pisses us off.

July 27, 2009 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have been told for so long that wishing for a slightly more equitable distribution of access to making a living is equivalent to raping the wife, having deviant relations with the children before slow-roasting the dog and dispersing the ancestral ashes via leaf blower of those who rightly deserve all praise from those of us who bask in the glow of their capital-generating sun that we end up voting against our best interests.

July 27, 2009 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

Would anyone like to offer a thoughtful (not cynical) estimate of the number/percentage of people who would put their "real" lives on hold to do the hard evenings-and-weekends slog to organise ballot-box support for single-payer, a useful safety net, more personal freedom, an end to abusive capitalism, etc.?

And, of that number or percentage, how many would be those who fulminate in political venues online?

And finally: what's the likelilood (%) that you would be one of them?

I'm not trying to be snarky with these questions! I'd genuinely like to know. There are a lot of numbers available in the literature, but I'd very much like to hear whether they're matched by thoughtful guesses from people whose intelligence generally seems to be well up to the mark.

July 28, 2009 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The government has simply lost credibility. They have been lying and self serving for so long and the corruption is so deep, that anything short of a complete purging of the gov and repeal of over half of the deeds of Congress over the last 100 years will fail to restore faith in government.
The founding fathers understood the temptations of a large gov and went out of their way to create a restrained gov that has been steadily eroded to the point that gov looks nothing like what they envisioned.

November 1, 2009 3:46 PM  

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