During their latest poll, Axios Harris Poll researchers found that people would often bring up the U.S. government as one of the “companies” they trusted the least. This seemed as particularly striking to reporters because it was the first time consumers mentioned the government on their own, giving the institution the lowest score of the 100 companies on the list.
In its report, Axios said this news mattered because President Donald Trump was clearly one of the main reasons why Americans think the government is “a toxic waste dump.” With the constantly negative news cycle surrounding the presidency, the publication explained, people are “fed up.” The result is a bad reputation.
It’s almost as if the majority of Americans put their faith in the government before Trump.
In its report, Axios mentioned how the negative reports mentioning Trump impact all branches of government. Adding that, “it’s not like Congress suddenly got worse than it’s been over the last 20 years.”
It’s “going to take years to recover from that,” reporters concluded.
But it’s been years since the federal government and its three branches were seen with mistrust by the general American population, whether Harris Poll picked up on that just now or not. As a matter of fact, there were years that even real estate mogul Trump himself ranked better than Congress.
The reality is that prior to 2016, confidence in all branches of government were low. And that reality was nothing new then.
In a roundup 2015 study by Gallup, researchers found that while confidence in the executive branch was up four points, only 33 percent of Americans had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the office of the presidency, while 32 percent said they were confident in the Supreme Court.
At the time, only eight percent said they had a great deal of confidence in Congress.
Over the several years, Gallup’s reports suggest, there were never more than 38 percent of respondents claiming they had a great deal of confidence in the presidency. On the other hand, the number of people saying they had “very little” confidence in the presidency varied greatly from five percent in 1991 to 42 in 2017.
In 2008, President George W. Bush’s last year, 41 percent said they had “very little” confidence in the presidency. Still, in its assessment of the numbers, Gallup explained that confidence in the presidency as an institution was generally lower during each year of Obama’s presidency than comparable years when Bill Clinton and later George W. Bush were in charge.
So as you can see, it doesn’t really matter who’s in charge — Americans have seldom trusted their government. And while reporters may want to blame the bulk of this on Trump now, much like reporters may have wanted to blame this overall distrust on Obama then, anyone who’s ever paid any attention to government understands that regardless of who’s in the White House, the federal government was never a trustworthy institution.
That reality is not going to change, no matter how hard we vote.
Government Is Inherently Inefficient
It’s interesting to learn people brought up the federal government while discussing companies. After all, if the government were a private enterprise, it would only operate with the overall support of its consumers and in an environment that would allow for freedom and competition to grow naturally, out of the need of consumers themselves. That is not, in any way, shape, or form, the government’s case.
Unlike the market, where knowledge is dispersed and a greater number of operators are constantly learning what consumers want or not through a process of trial and error, government operates as a monopoly. Politicians and elected officials don’t admit they’ve made mistakes simply because that would be bad for business. The poor electorate end up suffering the bulk of consequences, as they have little to no choice when it comes to what their government will do.
If researchers were serious about trying to understand the real reason why government is always seen as “a toxic waste dump,” they must look at the institution itself first to learn just what makes it so objectionable, to say the least. If they still believe the president makes a major difference, it just means they are not really paying attention.