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Robert Samuelson: Mad At Everyone

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This is the summer of our discontent. As Americans celebrate July 4, they are mad at their leaders, mad at their government and mad at each other. A recent Pew poll finds that "public trust in government remains near historic lows." Just 20% of Americans trust the government to "do the right thing just about always or most of the time." The comparable figures were 40% in 2000 and almost 80% in the early 1960s. There has been a long-term loss of trust.

At the same time — as is well known — political polarization has soared. Republicans and Democrats increasingly harbor dire and even hateful views of each other. Among Republicans, 58% have a "very unfavorable" view of Democrats, up from 21% in 1994, reports another Pew survey. Democrats' views of Republicans are nearly identical: 55% label Republicans as "very unfavorable," roughly a tripling since 1994's 17%. Poisonous politics strains personal friendships.

Historians will argue for decades over what drained public confidence in government. Any short list would include the war in Vietnam, Watergate, double digit inflation in the 1970s (13% in 1980), other economic failures (the 2008-09........

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