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Everyone is mad at everyone

8 42 1091

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 percent of Americans trust the government to “do the right thing just about always or most of the time.” The comparable figures were 40 percent in 2000 and almost 80 percent 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 percent have a “very unfavorable” view of Democrats, up from 21 percent in 1994, reports another Pew survey. Democrats’ views of Republicans are nearly identical: 55 percent label Republicans as “very unfavorable,” roughly a tripling since 1994’s 17 percent. 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 (13.5 percent in 1980), other economic failures (the 2008-2009 financial crisis and 11 post-World War II recessions ), the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the tendency of politicians to promise more........

© Washington Post