These sentiments are not without precedent in US history. From the beginning, doubts about government have been part of America’s cultural DNA. Around the middle of the 20th century, however, it was possible to believe that anti-statism was a thing of the past. Between 1933 and the mid-1960s, the federal government had fought the Great Depression, prevailed in the second world war, contained the Soviet Union, and presided over the greatest expansion of middle-class prosperity in human history. Little wonder that public trust in government reached 76 per cent by 1964.
And then the tide turned. Influenced in part by perceptions of deceit over (and defeat in) Vietnam, trust in government fell to 53 per cent in 1970. After Watergate, it fell again, to 36 per cent, in 1974. After the Great Inflation of the mid- and late 1970s, it collapsed to only 25 per cent by 1980. The economic recovery that began during the Reagan administration in 1983 moved trust back up for a while, but it stood at only 29 per cent on the threshold of Bill Clinton’s presidency. After rising again during President Clinton’s second term and George W. Bush’s first, it fell rapidly after 2004 and stood at just 17 per cent in the weeks before Barack Obama’s historic victory.
I had no idea there was such variation in the numbers over time.
check me out at posterous here.