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October 30th, 2009
06:10 AM ET

Could distrust in government be a good thing?

By Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

The latest public opinion polls do not bode well for our elected representatives: in some instances, they are suffering record low approval ratings.

In a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll this week, just 23-percent of Americans say they trust government to "do the right thing" all or most of the time. That's the lowest number since 1997.

A September Gallup poll showed public trust in Congress at a record low 45-percent. The executive branch, headed by President Obama, did better, with a 61-percent "trust" rating.

Despite Mr. Obama's campaign promises for hope and change, many Americans have lost faith in Congress to make the right judgments about issues facing the country. This has stymied Mr. Obama's legislative agenda, says CNN Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

"People have always had a kind of healthy skepticism about the bureaucracy. But what you find now is because people don't trust government, it provides a political opening for both parties to say – 'don't trust the other guy.' And depending on where you stand, you don't trust the other guy."

Watch: Is government distrust good? Video

Even the government's push to get the public vaccinated against H1N1 is being viewed with skepticism – despite the fact that the CDC reports 20-thousand Americans have been hospitalized and 1,000 have died from the illness. On the other hand, too much trust in government may have gotten the country in trouble in the past.

After 9/11, trust in government was high. According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll in October, 2001 – 60-percent trusted the government to do the right thing always or most of the time. That trust, some say, may have helped President Bush make the case for the Iraq War, which most Americans now oppose.

"When you have lower trust in government, you tend to get fewer foreign wars, you tend to get fewer expensive government programs, and you also tend to get fewer abuses of civil liberties, says Gene Healy of the conservative Cato Institute.

In other words, public distrust might be an informal but much needed way of exercising checks and balances.

What do you think? Could distrust in government actually be a good thing?

Filed under: Just Sayin'
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. John Ruppel

    The collection of commentary to this point is an example oif the issue we are facing. As long as we continue to elect soldiersto carry on our idealogical fight with the American people, rather than maanagers and humanitarians to administer to the public good, we will continue to see the same thing happening. Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different outcome. As long as we do what we have done in the past, we will continue to get the same results.

    February 23, 2010 at 8:00 am |
  2. Joseph Daniel Brian Lawlor

    Love you Carol..hit the nail square on with that topic. Like the lemmings who blindly followed leaderships to their deaths off the cliffs of Dover so too did the Peoples blindly follow.

    If I ask a politician if he/she has allowed corruption to interfere in the performance of their duties they would say no but they cannot deny the exposure to the body of politician in general and the corruptions we the Peoples have seen. Government in its current state does not serve the Peoples as it should does it.

    Carol..where Media blindly followed the expanation of leaderships. The Hippie Movement was reported as a break from the family unit in search of personal gain. That was not the fullness of truth girl. "that which binds us together will be severed" biblical words and the Hippie Movement was a break and a beginning to the severing of that corruption that has us all binded together like shackles. Removing those shackles girl as we replace ignorance and arrogance with knowledge and understanding.

    January 14, 2010 at 5:58 am |
  3. Earl

    Distrust in our government is very necessary regardless of who's at the helm. The two main people who aren't afraid to speak out like Ron Paul and Bob Barr don't get the much deserved attention they deserve like those others. Why don't they run? Oh I forget the 2 main parties are the necessary ones.

    January 6, 2010 at 11:33 pm |
  4. joe J

    Distrust in government is a necessary evil!
    But the real distrust should be withheld for the moron permanent politicians reelected time and time again. I hope to god that during this years election we the people boot all these bums out, democrats and republicans it doesn't matter they have all become fat cats at the expense of the people they are suppose to serve but don't. We must implement our own term limits on them and send them packing. America can not stand any more of these fools robbing the wealth of the nation to line their own pockets. Please American Citizens do not vote for for any one that has been in office over two terms.

    January 4, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  5. michael

    When are you guys going to get RID OF Fran Townsend?She was a big part of the biggest goof in american history!And now shes telling people how it should be done?Seems to me it would be hard to get a job anywhere when you were a part of the IRAQ fiassco!I trust nobody in Goverment,and some working for you !Why dont you do a story on the bilderburg group?Really delve into them and tell the american people what you come up with?Also when are you going to do a being white in america?Like its so easy for a white person in our country?Poor and jobless are color blind!Bet I wont see that!I guess you think because your white you got it made in this country?

    January 4, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  6. valboski

    Of course you must question in order to be informed. If you accept everything you are told you are clueless. Why aren't news shows talking about Obama's executive order tto give INTERPOL full immunity from taxes, laws and FOIA in the USA? What does that mena to our Constitutional rights as citizens? Where is the journalism?

    December 29, 2009 at 9:18 pm |
  7. Jack

    I agree with Jeff that it's normal human nature to distrust anyone who makes decisions for a group of people without asking those people for their input. Term limits would help but I believe publicly elected officials should face the same accountability that any other working American does. If you don't do your job you fired. I disagree that the government is an extension of the public. That's the way it should be but the fact is most of these guys don't face the problems that most Americans face. When have you heard of a senator being layer off? A congressman denied health benefits? A mayors lights being turned off? A governor not be able to put food on the table? They represent the public. They listen to us (or should) and then form their opinion.

    Want me to trust the government? Term limits and putting an end to lobbyist would be a great start!

    December 18, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  8. Allen N Wollscheidt

    The government - despite the Winguts denial of it - is just an extension of the public : NO alien authority rules us !

    When one says "I do not trust the government", he is ACTUALLY saying, "I do not trust the public".

    Well, these days, what with all these weird creatures on the loose in our political debate, I do not trust them BOTH ! ! - Especially today's PUBLIC ! !

    We are on the verge of destroying our capability for self-government !

    December 8, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  9. VAGuy

    "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." – Thomas Jefferson

    December 7, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  10. Jeff

    Interesting responses to this topic. I think it is normal human nature to distrust anyone who makes decisions for a group of people without asking those people for their input. One thing that I think would go a long way in overcoming people's mistrust of government is term limits. By that I mean term limits for every elected official. Don't give the politicians the chance to serve their own personal agendas. "Of the people, by the people, and for the people." Sound familiar? This basic premise is dragged through the trash by our current political system. Term limits!!!!

    November 30, 2009 at 5:33 pm |

    Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

    November 20, 2009 at 5:54 am |
  12. nwatcher

    A.Smith in Oregon.

    Isn't it about time to make your yearly trip from the cabin, down the mountain, into town for supplies.

    You mean to tell me you trusted the gov. before Bush and Cheney? You need a little historical perspective if that's all you can come up with. It's not going to take much longer (Christmas time, from what I hear in the Senate) to get a huge dose of current and future lies and promises rammed down our throats til we gag. By the way, will choking on the health care bill be covered by the health care bill or does choking coverage only start after your 5th birthday...?

    November 19, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  13. nwatcher

    Most Americans will say they distrust our Gov. Most of those same people keep electing the same folks to congress that created the mess in the first place. If you are not being represented well, throw the bums and crooks and insiders out and elect somebody who can make a decent, informed, representative decision. Yup, I'm keeping my Representative, but c'mon California and Mass... and guys can certainly do much, much better!!!!

    November 19, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  14. Rm

    When Government no longer represents the people, they should no longer be trusted. And even if they are doing our biding, we need to keep an eye on them.

    What would Washington, Jefferson, and Adams do?

    November 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm |
  15. Brian

    Why does concern by the press about questioning the government and the existence of militia groups only seem to occur under Democrat administrations? Militias and people who question authority have existed during the past four administrations. They only seem to draw ink when Democrats hold the white house. Is there a pattern here?

    November 17, 2009 at 8:31 pm |
  16. Jack Smith

    It used to be your job in the press to distrust the government. Then you all fell in love with Obama, and lost our trust. Who will tell us the truth now?

    November 16, 2009 at 8:22 am |
  17. Drew J

    Absolutely, these jerks in washington, democrat or republican need a good kick in the ass from us. They mistake the fact that because they are in the position to be heard that it means it's what's on their mind that we want to hear. Wrong, they are supposed to be the citizens "puppets", conveying the popular opinion of it's state. They are not leaders, they are our voice in washington!
    -Army Vet

    November 16, 2009 at 8:15 am |
  18. jean

    Of course distrust in government is a good thing! Our country was founded on that principle. It would help to restore a little trust,if all lobbying in Washington was illegal. In my opinion,that is a huge problem. So many politicians are beholding to so many! We hear of campaign me it;s very simple- make all lobbying illegal!

    November 16, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  19. Sherri

    I think distrust in government is essential. It appears that the public as a whole has not done a very good job of electing official with true integrity. As such, they commit egregious acts and give a brief press conference and are absolved.

    We entrust these individuals with our lives on so many levels. The rate of greed and graft is astounding. So much within our present system needs to be revamped. 'To thine ownself be true' is not a bad position to take. So is 'If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.'. We have to monitor those we elect, and let them know posthaste when they make mistakes.

    So many people are just weary to the bone of trying to live their own lives and the task of doing the job we elect others to do for us is frustrating and exhausting.

    November 11, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  20. Brian Nuszkiewicz

    we came from England for money but set up our government on the principle of DISTRUST

    November 1, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  21. A. Smith

    Of course distrust in government is growing!!

    After 8 years of the Bush-Cheney Administrations unconstitutional attempts to censor, lie, hide and obfuscate what precisely they were doing in their shadowed White House background, their memo's, evil deeds, and the absolutely questionable legalitys of many of their secret programs which impacted all Americans is finally beginning to come to light.

    It is appearing ever more obvious that the Mexican Drug Cartels have successfully infiltrated many levels of Governmental and Public officials in America who are very willing to help anyone that pays them enough.

    If some Police, Border Patrols, DEA and FBI agents are on the payroll of the Mexican Mafia, would you trust them?

    I have never met a Police Officer that didn't have a private corrupt agenda going on in their daily life activity's be it the promotion of drugs, prostitution, taking part in extortion, blackmail, trading private secure information for money, etc.etc.

    Would you trust someone that is in every way as corrupt and criminal as a serial offender, but hides and is protected by his/her badge or governmental credentials?

    Law enforcement officers including several governmental agency agents routinely use Extortion, Blackmail, Kidnapping in their standard modes of operation to pressure anyone they wish, regardless if that person is a law abiding American citizen or not.

    Like a pack of rabid dogs, if you turn in a Law Enforcement officer or Governmental agent with a tape or video recording to absolutely validate your claim against him/her (otherwise your 'word' is less than worthless), then you can certainly expect his/her Police or Governmental friends and associates to track you down and abuse you as much as they can.

    If you generally trust Law Enforcement Officers, or Governmental Agents, you are either Naive or setting yourself up for a large fall.

    A. Smith

    November 1, 2009 at 3:17 am |
  22. pinokeeoh

    It doesn't take a genius to realize how much we are lied to by our politicians. With those in power right now the lying has reached epidemic proportions. Barney Frank and Chris Dodds' roles in the Countrywide scandal and the mortgage melt down, Charley Rangles arrogance and all the others on both sides of the isle supposedly being investigated by the so called ethics committee. Why tell the truth when you can get away with not doing so. The media, especially CNN has been bought off by the Obama folks and will not hold these clowns accountable, so it continues. Takes courage to always seek the truth, which is why the Obama folks have plans for our free speech.

    October 31, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  23. Bob

    Attorney John is right on the money....

    October 31, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  24. Toni

    Educate yourself - IT IS OUR DUTY.

    And your purpose is not to perpetuate propaganda at the behest of (corrupt) government or to entertain us, but rather to inform the citizenry with factual, reliable and verifiable information.

    October 30, 2009 at 7:25 pm |
  25. Ted

    Government, or to be governed, is a concept, a concept that is put into action by people. And people being people, are susceptible to their own morals, good, bad or neutral. I believe the primary reason why our governing people have forgotten the purpose and the concept of governing is due to their personal agendas. Including, but not limited to, greed, lust, power... And, as mentioned in a previous entry, they will lie, cheat, steal, do whatever is necessary to get into office and to stay there. We, the people, have elected the governing body to represent us in government. The concept is that the elected people would have us, the people, as their top priority, representing us, our wants and needs, in a fair and unbiased frame of mind. But, due to their greed, lust, etc… they have lost focus on us, the people, and have in turn focused upon themselves thinking, “What’s in it for me? How much money will I receive? How can I benefit from …. ?”. In their lust for power, they have created a multitude of methods to “cover their tracks” as so to allow them to do whatever they want… regardless if it’s what the people want or not. We, the people, are getting tired of not receiving the representation that we expected when we elected the people into office. ( I mention “into office” and NOT “into power”.) And so, we are now asking the governing body to provide transparency, uncover their tracks, provide a paper trail, of their actions. We want them to prove that they are in fact representing us, the people. For me, I believe and trust fully in the concept of the government. It’s the greedy, lustful, lying, power hungry, super rich, self-centered, inconsiderate, heartless people that have been elected that I don’t trust… at all !!

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely !!

    October 30, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  26. Rick

    No, the current level of distrust is misplaced. Where was the distrust, cynicism and anger hiding during the Bush/Cheney/Rove, et al. years of lying and thievery? The loud voices we hear today were sipping their smiley faced grape kool-aid and laughing at the rest of us all the while and all the way to the bank. What an ugly mess we are in right now and President Obama gets the blame. It's up to each of us to demand honesty and due diligence from the Senate and Congress. And while you're at it, demand that corporations' lobbyists and lawyers stop supplementing their salaries with payoffs and perks for quid pro quo. Put your mistrust squarely where it belongs.

    October 30, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  27. Mitchell

    I totally trust this current government. I trust them to usher us into a bankrupt and socolist future.

    October 30, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  28. Steven

    Conservatives are so transparent on this " Don't trust the government" issue, they play up this message only when they do NOT have the majority in our governing bodies. When they are the governing majority it's all – trust us, don't question us or you are anti- American and a traitor, oh, and by the way, don't investigate us because we wouldn't want you to see what racist, lying, elitist criminals we really are.

    October 30, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  29. doug

    When did our polticians shift from representing us, to fulfilling their own agendas? It seems that a politicians biggest concern is getting re-elected. And how do they do that? By accumulating money to campaign with, and appearing to make the most people in their constituency happy. So they make favor with the lobbies that pump millions into the campaigns, and it appears that they all fight for the few dollars available to fund projects back home. It doesn't matter if it is fiscally responsible, if a senator or rep. isn't bringing federal money back home, he isn't helping his people. Even if those dollars will eventually lead to a tax increase to cover the deficit. I vote for less government!

    October 30, 2009 at 10:05 am |
  30. Lester

    Cato is not a conservative think tank. How often are you guys at CNN going to get that wrong? It's a libertarian think tank.

    October 30, 2009 at 9:52 am |
  31. Jack

    Anything that causes people to distrust the Federal govt is a good thing. I thank CNN for doing their part in accomplishing this goal!

    October 30, 2009 at 9:51 am |
  32. jim vicalvi

    Obama worries about the corruption in the Afghanistan govt. Why doesn't he first worry about and fix the corruption in his OWN govt. Our Congress makes the thieves in Afghanistan look like amateurs. And, they just laugh at us. Congress that is.

    October 30, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  33. david

    splashy is exactly what is wrong with democrats these days. I am a democrat for past 30+ years......i know the positions of democrats like JFK........splashy has no idea. For splashy political affiliation is more like sports team affiliation, emotion no analysis.

    October 30, 2009 at 9:01 am |
  34. Marlena

    I do not and will never trust the Government. That said, I would love to see a NO LIE Policy for all Government official, Or call it the TRUTH Plan. I just think if you hold that much power, you should BE trustworthy and Honest at all times...I hate it when people lie to me.They should always be HONEST!

    October 30, 2009 at 9:00 am |
  35. david

    After 9/11 government approval was 60%. Now government approval is very low. What was government approval August 2001.....doubt it was 60%. What was government approval February 2009? The implication that we all loved government and bush made us all into skeptics is either proof of your bias or proof of your weak analysis..................if you studied journalism you wasted your time.....if you studied statistics you wasted your time...........if you studied political science you are a success.............

    October 30, 2009 at 8:57 am |
  36. Chris Henry - Guelph, Ontario, CANADA

    Dear Carol:

    In my opinion, Americans are the most fortunate people on Earth. The checks and balances embedded within the governmental structure, as defined by your Constitution provide you with safety valves few countries have the privilege to exersize. The ultimate policing authority and trust in your government officials ultimately lies in the individual vote.


    October 30, 2009 at 8:55 am |
  37. Peter C. Lomtevas

    I fully trust that Congress is incompetent in its crafting and passage of laws (child support, child abuse/neglect, housing). I am confident that Obama fails to check on whether a bill he signed into law has been monitored for its intended effect. I agree that the Supreme Court accepts whimsical cases in order not rule against Congress or the president.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:53 am |
  38. Ray

    These idiots in Congress are the real problem. Democrats are going to be booted this mid term election and Barack Obama will end up hurting the poverty stricken popoluation even more than Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton did.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  39. Rebecca DeWitt

    How about "wary" rather than complete distrust? On the whole, I believe people need to be better informed on the issues, and know which elected officials best represent their personal points of view. For a person to completely distrust the government without a well-developed personal philosophy and knowledge of our elected officials is counter-productive.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  40. paula davis

    too much trust of the goverment/big brother has caused disasters. most imfamous was the total trust german's had for their leader hitler. do you still want to trust the government!!!!!! lol NOT!!!!!!!

    October 30, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  41. Chris Henry

    Dear Carol:

    In my opinion, Americans are the most fortunate people on Earth. The checks and balances embedded within the governmental structure, as defined by your Constitution provide you with safety valves few countries have the privilege to exersize. The ultimate policing authority and trust in your government officials ultimately lies in the individual vote.


    October 30, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  42. Glenn

    It is not that we are is that we are becoming aware and NOW seeing how govt ,big business and media have done/doing things based on our blind trust for years that benefited them and NOT us.

    Is that cynical or just sheep learning how not to get screwed by the wolves in the world?

    For centuries the masses blindly followed govt and big business AND the media. The last 10 years ALL have failed the american people's trust and just like when you find you got cheated on you go through the process of analysis so you dont get used like you have in the past.

    Big business has been allowed by the govt to hose us. Govt politicians have taken advantage of our trust for years as we have bazillions of dollars going to wars and $13M Samoan "man cave" when Katrina and its affected Americans have been forgotten.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  43. Sam

    As another poster said, no government deserves absolute trust. Absolute trust is what allows politicians to manipulate parts of the population into supporting ill-advised initiatives like an unnecessary war or the subversion of our most basic civil liberties.

    That being said, I find the current atmosphere of distrust to be a largely manufactured one–manufactured for political gain. The most current symbols of this government distrust are things like the tea party and healthcare reform protests from earlier, movements that don't strike me as genuine, thoughtful distrust (the good kind).

    Politicians are trying to capitalize on the general populace's feelings of fear and uncertainty (from the economy) and fostering a knee-jerk distrust of government.

    It's the difference between skepticism (healthy, thoughtful distrust) and cynicism (knee-jerk, reactive distrust), and it's too bad that CNN's correspondent (Costello) casually dismissed the question of whether we should distinguish between cynicism and skepticism. It's a difference that is essential to the proper understanding of this issue, yet the author of the blog discussing the issue doesn't even seem to recognize that there IS a difference.

    It doesn't give me much hope that the blog is terribly well-informed.

    Just sayin'.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:42 am |
  44. Jaimie

    Come on- is there seriously 23% of the country that still trusts the Government? Why? It should be down in the single digits!

    October 30, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  45. Justin Harris

    Trust the government! Sure about as mush as I trust the media to give me an un-bias story.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:39 am |
  46. David

    Trust is earned and not freely given and when promises are broken you have to work harder at earning that trust back again. Divorce courts are filled with people who have trust issues. Maybe less talking and more action. Following through with campaign promises would be a good place to start earning the peoples trust again.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  47. Max

    Trust in government? You have to be kidding. There isn't a single person in Washington working for the taxpayer it seems. They either represent lobbyist, special interest or the welfare population trying to buy easy votes. We should put an end to outside funds for elections and give everyone that runs the same amount money on the taxpayers dime. Trust me in the end it would save the taxpayer trillions of dollars. Case in point the stimulus was nothing but an $800 billion payback to pork projects and special interest. The taxpayers would have come out much cheaper to give Obama the $800 million he collected and spent and now pays back 100 fold to those that donated and supported his campaign. I wonder how much it cost to bowl at the White house? ROFL

    October 30, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  48. Ralph Patch

    Distrust in government is a good thing to a point. I don't trust them all that much and I haven't since watergate. However, I trust the government more now since the Republicans were ousted. Bush and Cheney were two of the biggest crooks to ever be in charge.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:36 am |
  49. Jaimie

    Come on- Is there really 23% that still trust the Government these days? Why ? I thought it would be in the singe digits.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:36 am |
  50. Darrin

    Cato is a LIBERTARIAN think tank. Not conservative.
    If the depth of your research is this shallow, I'm not sure I should be trusting you on much else. Ironic, given the subject matter.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  51. Allen in Hartwell GA

    Republicans have not trusted government ever since Reagan made his speech about government being the problem. Republican politicians have shown that government (under their control) shouldn't be trusted. So the answer is to not elect Republicans (or as they now prefer to be called, Independent Conservatives). Then we can go back to electing officials who think government has a place and a responsibility to running the government for the good of the people.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:27 am |
  52. Margaret

    There has ALWAYS been a philosophy of "non-total disclosure" to the public, by government in this country" from the very beginning.
    All based upon the fact that "if the American public (at large) knew the whole truth" of matters of state", we would be unable to deal with the issues in an objective manor!

    In spite of the fact that the Constitution states "We the people".
    As a result, the American public have been trained for decades, to trust whatever government stated to us as fact. However, as many more Americans are more highly educated, we've learned that everything stated by our government, "usually may be more fiction than fact".

    Moreover,recently as we've seen time and time again, all of the corruption among so many government officials and we've become more distrusting of what we're being told.

    So yes, I agree that we should not put all of our trust in government and we need to hold them accountable for their actions. I believe that with this approach, Americans' can yield a better stans of accountability.

    Also, We as citizens, need to be versed on the issues and facts at hand, that were given instead of, our governments position on issues. .Be more proactive vs. reactive and be non bias of what we here from the right or left "Ding Nuts" instead of buying into what we are told.

    Also, be mindful, that we pay the salaries of our elective officials. So, if the politicians don't here what the public wants and needs, our votes put them into office to represent us and our votes can take them out of office!!!

    October 30, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  53. ken

    Distrust in government is not a good thing because it kills hope and optomism. If the policitians lie to get in office and lie while in office everyone in the nation becomes a pessimist and loses hope that anything will change. Obama could have turned things around if he kept his promises but he has turned out to be more of the same. The president and congress have proven that they are good for the banks and wall street but can't be trusted to help the people on main street. Hope has been shredded.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:21 am |
  54. Thomas

    Trust the government! HA! Just like we trusted them after 911. The elected polititions will tell us anything, and once elected they go after there own wants, and personel gains.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:04 am |
  55. markp

    Media bias is partly to blame.. Networks who have an agenda such as CNN will pull at your heart and tell you that everything that Obama and the liberais are trying to do are morally right, but CNN wont tell you or even look into the fact that despite what the democrats say they can NOT give 35 million uninsured people health insurance while making everyone's insurance more affordable and reducing the national debt. CNN knows this to be a falsehood and still refuse to challenge it.

    October 30, 2009 at 8:03 am |
  56. Aaron

    No government deserves absolute trust.

    October 30, 2009 at 7:45 am |
  57. IRA

    Many, many years ago we used to have patriots in government. Today, we only have politicians. They are beholding more to the lobbyists and special interest groups who contribute to their election campaigns than to the constituents they supposedly represent. That is why we have high taxes, porous borders, bailouts, generally inefficient government, and worse.

    While the Republicans, and Conservatives are somewhat more level headed and civil, the Democrats are absolutely fruits, nuts and flakes, not to mention Socialists at heart. America offers the guarantee of freedom, a level playing field (when government works properly), and equal opportunity to allow people to rise to their highest level based on their own industriousness. It does NOT guarantee cradle to grave cash and services to everyone, citizens and non-citizens alike.

    Pelosi, Reid, Rangel, Levin, Kerry, Frank, Dodd, Schumer, Hoyer, Murtha and the rest of that 'crowd', and I'm being kind here, need to go – to Russia, where they will do more good for America.

    In 2010 I hope the American voter will wake up and hand these folks, along with Obama and Company, their pink slips. I would contest their applications for unemployment based on fraud. However, considering how rich so many of them are, and what wonderful retirement benefits they have, I don't how many would have the guts to apply for unemployment.

    I would also tell them to not let the door hit their behinds on the way out. However, considering they'll probably be carrying furniture I'd say that is a stretch.

    Getting back to the original question of whether Americans trust their government, the short answer is no. Government hasn't done ANYTHING to let us believe we should trust them. Where have all the patriots gone? Long time passing.

    October 30, 2009 at 7:40 am |
  58. jim vicalvi

    I definitely don't trust the govt. Starting right at the top. There, to many promises have been broken or just plain sidestepped. I also don't trust polls. In this one I think that your approval figures are way to high. In any other poll I have read congress' approval rating is in the 20's and heading for single digits. Lastly, I don't trust the media. There is to much bias and slanted reporting going on.

    October 30, 2009 at 7:29 am |
  59. Spoff from Pittsburgh

    I think distrust in government is essential. But we tend to focus on the President. The people who most deserve our suspicion are all in Congress. The majority of which fly below the public's radar, except when they want to be seen. What I'd like to see from CNN is a Wingnut like presentation, only zeroed in on those in Congress who most court special interests. I think that might point the public's attention where it needs to be.

    October 30, 2009 at 7:27 am |
  60. Bill Bakan

    I am an entrepreneur with a business that has grown over the past year. I work with many people in gov't from regulatory to administration staff and elected officials.

    By themselves many are great folks, but it seems when you put them together they become ineffective and inefficient. In additon many gov't employees are just that because they don't have the skill set to be viable in the private sector. I think many really try and mean well but they just don't "get it" and until you have direct ownership in something you never will.

    Get a gov't job and you are golden for life, many you cannot get rid of once they are set and they diminish the deeds of those that do good work. Sooner of later if a business does that they go under or are forced to retune their workforce.

    In my case and I suspect for many others, it is not so much a distrust but lack of confidence that as a whole government is effective or competent in issues that matter such as having a major roll in health care. I do set aside the national defense as an exception to this, as a whole our military excells at its assigned tasks.

    Thank you

    October 30, 2009 at 7:18 am |
  61. Janice

    The available money and power in government is a draw for corruption. The many indictments handed out to congressional members and government employees exemplifies the root of the distrust in government – corruption. Our elected representatives have been bought with the legal bribes called campaign contributions. Lobbists have been given unfetterd access to our government to promote the agenda of inanimate and powerful corporate interests. We see this corruption on every level of government, from local to national. I would love to feel trust in our government, but it would be an incredibly foolish thing to do.

    October 30, 2009 at 7:14 am |
  62. manuel verdugo

    if the economy is doing so well as our washington leaders say. then why have they been handing out money to everyone including the public? why have they had to pay you to buy a car, or a house? simply to make the grafs look like things are improving. this is called minipulation of the market.
    why not have the public go out and vote, like we do during elections, and ask the American working class, if things are getting better. you will find the results do not even come close to Washingtons fingures. simple arithmatic: if i make $1,000 a week i can spend an extra $300. if i make $500. a week i can spend an extra $50.0 but if iam now making $300.0 i cant spend any extra maney, and that is the true figures. we have gone from making a good living to poverty, over night. HOW CAN YOU SAY THINGS ARE GETTING BETTER!

    October 30, 2009 at 7:12 am |
  63. Ron

    Yes... distrust is something that the architect of checks and balances was in favor of as James Madison said:
    "All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree."

    More wisdom from Madison:

    "It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood. "

    We have bailouts that spend $700,000 per job created... Wars based on a desire to upstage daddy... and health care 'reform' that nobody understands and all parties try to obfuscate.

    No wonder people don't trust government!

    October 30, 2009 at 7:08 am |
  64. Ed Hailio

    All governments world wide are imposed factions.They are all terrorist and criminal organizations.This is not indicative of the of the US, it is world wide.They have their origins in other criminal and terrorist institutions. If you think this is crazy ask our First Nations fellow humans if they invited them here to destroy their cultures and perpetrate genocide upon them. Read the book, Life's Journey into Despair and Failure, The Anti-Life Controlling and Destroying Us. It is available through AuthorHouse, Bloomington IN. These terrorist and criminal orgs. are beyond terrorism. They are Anti-Life. You will read the book if you have any Humanity left in you and if not then youse are nothing more than sychophants and enablers to them. They have imposed their Armageddon, the destruction of all Life upon us.

    October 30, 2009 at 7:02 am |
  65. marie pinder

    Americans distrusting their government is nothing new.The only difference now is that it has gotten worse.I distrust not only the government but both political parties.Both the Democratic party and the Republican party are the reflection of each other-LIARS.THINK: If the American people do not trust their own government,I can only imagine how much more foreign governments feel.The American people are beginning to wake up and they are seeing the government for what it is.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:58 am |
  66. allen

    Never trust the government! We use the government for our own interest to do the things we are unable to do on our own. We bring the government out like we bring out our crazy relatives for weddings christings and cremonies. For the rest of year we keep the government in the cellar.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:57 am |
  67. Jan

    As a high school English teacher presently teaching Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience", distrust of government is nothing new. It was just a lot easier in 1849 to refuse to pay a tax which supported a government action one disagreed with - Thoreau only spent one night in jail. How timeless his words seem now. "I ask not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it."

    October 30, 2009 at 6:55 am |
  68. Attorney John

    Distrust of government is quintessentially American. This country was founded by people who fundamentally distrusted government. Accordingly, they created a government with limited, narrowly-defined power, and then divided that power among three separate branches of government as a means of limiting the government's ability to exercise its limited power. What is more, the Constitution makes clear that the federal government has no inherent authority at all - it only has the power delegated to it. Sadly, for the last century, the federal government has been steadily usurping power the Constition clearly reserves to the States and to the People. The current healthcare debate is the latest proof that federal overnment no longer feels constrained by Constitutional limits on its power and is proof positive for why we should and must distrust government.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:51 am |
  69. Kitty Johnson

    Glad you asked. The government is us delegating to ourselves. What is suspect to me is the idea that big business can be trusted to use power for the general good. Bush in The White House always looked to me like the Fox guarding the Chickens. We need to set some limits on the potential for accruing wealth because, yes, resources are limited and the ability to gain and protect wealth for ones self is not a sure sign of morality, ethics or even good judgement. I know there are many individuals in law enforcement, government bureaus, the military etc. who are dedicated to their jobs out of a sense of committment and service to the general population rather than for personal gain.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  70. Eugene M

    Slight tangent but I find there is an inherent problem with the poll question itself. Just like with a true or false question, either all of the question has to be true or it is false. Depending on what side of the spectrum you are on, you'll either trust democrats or republicans but wouldn't trust them all as a whole. The poll needs to be more specified to get an accurate representation. If the poll asked "do you trust the president to do the right thing," the results may have been quite different.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  71. Roy in NC

    most of our presidents should be tried for war crimes. do not want to put anyone on the spot, but never trust government, the only people who do trust this government are.... i'll just leave it there

    October 30, 2009 at 6:46 am |
  72. Bob Young

    Our elected Reps in the congress are primarily interested in whatever it takes to stay in office, until death do they part. It seems quite clear that stuffing compaign coffers with money by catering to special interests is far more important then the needs of their constituents. Our founding fathers must cetainly be flipping in their graves.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:45 am |
  73. Ron

    All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.
    -James Madison

    October 30, 2009 at 6:45 am |
  74. Mr. John A.Estes

    Trust in Govt.? We the People... need to slow down the govt process into gridlock if nessary to exercise our Bill of rights: Redress Greivance right! But,so few care to? As seen in Calif., 10 million non-registered voter's 10 million registered! Even fewer, vote; less then that care to Redress at all! Or get involved at any level. Too bad, or govt does'nt even really effect the indivual livlyhood ever anyway. will if they do, too Late by then; did;nt VOTE!!!

    October 30, 2009 at 6:45 am |
  75. Shaynes

    It makes no difference, how much our citizens distrust govenment,. This is only happening because our prsesident is a black man. Let's face it. I wish some one would come out and say this is blatant racism.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:44 am |
  76. E. Lowe

    Yes, mistrust is good and necessary. Our politicians have proved that they are not trustworthy.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:44 am |
  77. Marc

    The problem is not wignut-ism, the problem is extremism by all sides. Bush and his gang of criminals took this nation so far to the right that a millimeter left of that makes anyone who dares a socialist or a communist. The liberals are all evil and want to destroy all, scream the conservatives. I'm sick of all of this. By the way, I like the wingnut hats.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:43 am |
  78. Brian Nuszkiewicz


    October 30, 2009 at 6:43 am |
  79. jeffrey g. mooney

    Trust the gov. hhhmmm no . lets take a look at afghan war now that they want another 40,000 troops over there and the president hasn't made a move on the issue yet they have been American troops killed.
    I find this very suspicious plus the fact they spend our money like crazy hitting the moon with 79 million dollars when we owe china money people hungry here on earth.
    now they are working on going to mars, when all this money being spent could go on healthcare, u see where I'm going with all this I could go on and on!!

    October 30, 2009 at 6:41 am |
  80. Brian Nuszkiewicz

    The power elite is a group of PAID buerocrat proffesionals. As stated on the "28 things to know before you go" article on even CNN states we can't trust the police due to corruption so am i supposed to feel safe after that national opinion? Voicing concern will always feed off of the principle that things aren't okay. Things will never be perfect and i believe the government is owed more under it's current administration.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:40 am |
  81. Karl

    It is no wonder why people are negative and don't trust government! With all of the media coverage and negativity that is published. Why not just try for one day to just cover good things and not have a negative side to everything. It is from the news that people are depressed, sad, mean, angry. Why not keep the news on the bright side? Why does there always need to be a negative side to EVERYTHING that is on TV. I have never remembered such news. It has happened during this last election and has NOT QUIT! PLEASE STOP! It has gotten to the point that I cannot even watch the news any longer, because it makes me so depressed. It is ridiculous what the media has done to the American public.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:39 am |
  82. Larry McKinney

    I think a healthy distrust of government is a good thing but as with taking any extreme position tends to be destructive. I have come to distrust news organizations more as they seem to sensationalize issues rather than report them, distorting issues towards one extreme or another. Even the weather channel is getting into the act. Their theme today – FALL FURY – it is just the fall weather, not an unnatural threat

    October 30, 2009 at 6:39 am |
  83. splashy

    We needed it most when the Republicans were in power, since they have brought us most of the debt (starting with Reagan, who claimed the debt didn't matter), the spying on citizens, the wars THEY started, the financial disaster, the funding of wars as "emergencies" for over 7 years to hide the cost leading to the debt, and so many other things.

    I notice how NOW there is this push to distrust the government, since the Democrats have more control. It's obviously coming from those that don't want us to help the 44,000 that are dying every year from lack of decent health care, for instance. When the Republicans had power, anyone that voiced distrust of the government was reviled, attacked, lost their jobs, and generally hurt and shunted aside.

    That being said, we should always look at the government and practice dissent when they do something that is not right in our opinion, or don't do what is right in our opinion, along with doing the same with the corporations who want to control the government. The corporations, including the bankers, are at least as bad as politicians, probably much worse as they are always greedy and only going for profit no matter who gets hurt.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  84. Russ in PA

    Distrust in the government is a necessary thing, as it must be obvious to all that government tends to overstep it's bounds in the name of "security", "investment", "general welfare". Just listen to how many politicians call our government a democracy, when it was intended to be a republic. Ron Paul is one of the few with the conviction to protect our rights and freedoms; the rest deserve our skepticism...

    October 30, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  85. w ramsey


    October 30, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  86. David R

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Regarding the Poll about distrusting the Government.
    These polls always reflect the attitudes of the news people hear day in and day out on news channels like CNN. So does this poll mean that people are distrustful of the the Govt or that the message they receive from news channels tells them to distrust the Govt?

    October 30, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  87. Ron

    Cato is NOT conservative. It is libertarian.

    October 30, 2009 at 6:35 am |