Gallup has another of its yearly trust polls out, this one covering institutions. It should surprise no one that virtually every institution covered showed a decline in public trust. This is a long-term trend, and for a democracy, an existential threat that our leaders in all of those institutions have not been taking sufficiently seriously. The one surprise in the survey is that the only institution that showed a rise in public trust since last year: the police!
Here is the list:
I am thrilled to see trust in the public schools crashing. Most of the drops in trust levels are small enough to be shrugged off, although a 1% drop when you only had 12% trust to begin with—that’s Congress—could be significant. I suppose one could quibble that Gallup’s term, “confidence,” is different from “trust.” I don’t see the distinction: I don’t trust people and things I have no confidence in, and I have no confidence in those I can’t trust.
Now look at how the scores broke down by levels of “confidence” and over time. Since it’s a long way to the end, a couple of observations at the front (you will have more, I’m sure:
- The Presidency trust levels are a yo-yo, and despite the assault on President Trump, he does not appear to have done the kind of damage to the institution that has been claimed by his critics.
- Congress, on the other hand, has lost the trust of the public in two decades, the legacy of Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, and various GOP Speakers like Hastert, Gingrich and Ryan.
- The trust in newspapers is bolstered by public confidence in local papers, but TV news has also cratered, thanks to, well, all of the news networks.