Americans Don’t Trust the Govt, the Media, or Each Other: Fading Trust is “Sign of Cultural Sickness and National Decline”

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Americans are losing trust in each other, in the government, and in the media, according to a concerning new survey.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that conducts public opinion polls and social science research and informs the public about issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world. The organization recently published a new report called Trust and Distrust in America, which reveals that Americans think declining trust in the government and in each other is making it harder to solve important problems.

Confidence in the government and in each other is shrinking.

“Two-thirds of adults think other Americans have little or no confidence in the federal government. Majorities believe the public’s confidence in the U.S. government and in each other is shrinking, and most believe a shortage of trust in government and in other citizens makes it harder to solve some of the nation’s key problems,” the report states.

Many Americans think it is necessary to clean up the “trust environment”: 68% say it is very important to repair the public’s level of confidence in the federal government, and 58% say the same about improving confidence in fellow Americans.

Chart showing that Americans think their distrust of the federal government and each other is a problem that gets in the way of solving issues.

Source: Pew Research Center

There are several reasons for the decline in trust.

Diminishing trust is viewed by some as a sign of cultural sickness and national decline. Others believe it is linked to what they perceive to be increased loneliness and excessive individualism.

Those who think interpersonal trust has declined in the past generation offer a laundry list of societal and political problems, including a sense that Americans on the whole have become more lazy, greedy and dishonest. Some respondents make a connection between what they think is poor government performance – especially gridlock in Washington – and the toll it has taken on their fellow citizens’ hearts. (source)

Overall, 49% of adults think interpersonal trust has been tailing off because people are less reliable than they used to be.

In a comment typical of the views expressed by many people of different political leanings, ages, and educational backgrounds, one participant in a new Pew Research Center survey said: “Many people no longer think the federal government can actually be a force for good or change in their lives. This kind of apathy and disengagement will lead to an even worse and less representative government.” Another addressed the issue of fading interpersonal trust: “As a democracy founded on the principle of E Pluribus Unum, the fact that we are divided and can’t trust sound facts means we have lost our confidence in each other.” (source)

Levels of personal trust tend to be linked with people’s broader views on institutions and civic life. Those who are less trusting in the interpersonal sphere also tend to be less trusting of institutions, less sure their fellow citizens will act in ways that are good for civic life, and less confident that trust levels can rise in the future:

For instance, high trusters often have significantly more positive views about their fellow Americans’ civic and political behaviors than do medium or low trusters. The gaps are particularly striking when it comes to how much confidence high trusters and low trusters express in Americans’ willingness to treat others with respect (54 percentage point gap between the high and low trust groups), respect the rights of people who are not like them (48 points), do what they can to help others in need and obey federal and state laws (both have 45-point gaps), accept election results regardless of who wins (43 points) and honestly report their full income when paying taxes (38 points). (source)

Public confidence in the government is at historic lows.

Trust in government has been declining for decades, and for good reasons, according to the report:

Long-running surveys show that public confidence in the government fell precipitously in the 1960s and ’70s, recovered somewhat in the ’80s and early 2000s, and is near historic lows today.

By and large, Americans think the current low level of trust in government is justified. Just one-in-four (24%) say the federal government deserves more public confidence than it gets, while 75% say that it does not deserve any more public confidence than it gets. Similarly, among U.S. adults who perceive that confidence in each other has dropped, many think there is good reason for it: More than twice as many say Americans have lost confidence in each other “because people are not as reliable as they used to be” (49% support that statement) than take the opposite view, saying Americans have lost confidence in each other “even though people are as reliable as they have always been” (21% say that). (source)

The rise of independent news sources like Wikileaks that are not afraid to dump truth out there for all to see – exposing widespread government corruption in the process – has no doubt led to the diminishing trust in government.

The majority believes that officials and the media withhold information.

Confidence in institutions is associated with how those institutions handle and share important information with the public. People’s confidence in key institutions is associated with their views about the transparency of institutions.  Those who hold those skeptical views are more likely than others to have greater concerns about the state of trust.

About two-thirds (69%) of Americans say the federal government intentionally withholds important information from the public that it could safely release, and 61% say the news media intentionally ignores stories that are important to the public.

In addition, many say it is becoming more difficult to tell fact from fiction:

Significant shares also assert they face challenges separating the truth from false information when they are listening to elected officials and using social media. Some 64% say it is hard to tell the difference between what is true and not true when they hear elected officials; 48% say the same thing about information they encounter on social media. (source)

In this era of rampant mainstream media “fake news” and the government’s long history of orchestrating false flags, it is no surprise many Americans do not trust either institution. Attempts to censor alternative media outlets are not exactly helping to build trust, either. Mainstream news outlets are often quick to report on events, often sensationalizing them, facts be damned. Remember when the MSM twisted the Covington Catholic story, essentially putting a target on the back of a teenaged boy? The MSM also has a tendency to sugar-coat important events, including glossing over details surrounding extremist attacks. There are countless examples of the media’s manipulation of details in order to fit a certain narrative. Often, it seems that the media is deliberately trying to incite civil war (that would be great for their ratings, right?).

While some level of trust is important to society, it has downsides.

The report explains that while social trust “is seen as a virtue and a societal bonding agent, too much trust can be a serious liability. Indiscriminate trusters can be victimized in any number of ways, so wariness and doubt have their place in a well-functioning community.”

As preppers know, the risk of widespread civil unrest becoming reality in the near future is increasing. “Uncivil behavior isn’t just widely accepted – it’s praised and cheered on. Hatred of one another is becoming the norm and this is how civil wars begin,” Daisy Luther warned us last year.

While it is wise to be careful about who you allow in your circle, distrust can be taken to the extreme. Finding a small group of like-minded people to collaborate with isn’t a bad idea. But because it can be difficult to know whom you can really trust these days, becoming as self-reliant as possible is crucial.

People link declining trust with other major problems they see.

On a grand scale of national issues, trust-related issues are not near the top of the list of Americans’ concerns. However, people do link declining trust as a factor that impacts other issues they do consider important:

For example, in their open-ended written answers to questions, numbers of Americans say they think there are direct connections between rising distrust and other trends they perceived as major problems, such as partisan paralysis in government, the outsize influence of lobbyists and moneyed interests, confusion arising from made-up news and information, declining ethics in government, the intractability of immigration and climate debates, rising health care costs and a widening gap between the rich and the poor.

Many of the answers in the open-ended written responses reflect judgments similar to this one from a 38-year-old man: “Trust is the glue that binds humans together. Without it, we cooperate with one another less, and variables in our overall quality of life are affected (e.g., health and life satisfaction).” (source)

Most people believe it is possible to regain trust.

The majority of Americans think that trust can be restored and that it is possible to improve the level of confidence people have in the government and each other:

More than eight-in-ten Americans (84%) believe it is possible to improve the level of confidence people have in the government.

Their written responses about how to make headway on trust problems urge a variety of political reforms, starting with more disclosure of what the government is doing, as well as term limits and restrictions on the role of money in politics. Some 15% of those who answered this question point to a need for better political leadership, including greater honesty and cooperation among those in the political class.

Similarly, 86% believe it is possible to improve peoples’ confidence in each other. They say local communities can be laboratories for trust-building as a way to confront partisan tensions and overcome tribal divisions. Some also make the case that better leaders could inspire greater trust between individuals. Others suggest that a different approach to news reporting – one that emphasizes the ways people cooperate to solve problems – would have a tonic effect. (source)

To read Pew Research Center’s full report, click here: Trust and Distrust in America

What do you think?

Are you a trusting person? Which criteria do you use to determine if a person or institution is trustworthy? Do you think that the US government (or any government) is worthy of trust? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

Dagny Taggart is the pseudonym of an experienced journalist who needs to maintain anonymity to keep her job in the public eye. Dagny is non-partisan and aims to expose the half-truths, misrepresentations, and blatant lies of the MSM.

Picture of Dagny Taggart

Dagny Taggart

Dagny Taggart is the pseudonym of an experienced journalist who needs to maintain anonymity to keep her job in the public eye. Dagny is non-partisan and aims to expose the half-truths, misrepresentations, and blatant lies of the MSM.

Leave a Reply

  • When a country’s citizens grow to distrust their government, it leads to consideration of said governments being illegitmate. When a majority perceive their government as illegitimate, a country is in real trouble.

  • We agree that we are losing trust in the government, and that is as it should be. They have betrayed us too many times. I disagree that we are losing trust in each other – maybe in cities where no one knows their neighbors and meetings are more random. But in towns and smaller cities, we are BUILDING trust, depending on each other, preparing, growing food, engaged in our communities.

  • Given the intense level of partisanship between the political parties and the amount of vitriol and hate spewing from the left, how can we possibly trust their politicians, their MSM, or government agencies packed by leftists from the previous administration? Its simple, we can’t. It feels like the left wants a civil war.

    With large stores using facial recognize software to add our photos to the vast dossier compiled on each of us by social media companies, the major online retailers, search engines, cell phone manufactures, credit agencies, medical records and much more, how can we trust those companies to safeguard our data that they don’t really need? We can’t, especially when most if not all of those companies leadership are avowed leftists.

    In short, its the vast loss of privacy that is killing the trust. If you want to fix the trust, fix the privacy problem!

  • This is exactly why we need to have our heads out of the comfortable, warm fuzzy sand. A big case is headed our way with the Epstein business poised to sweep away all remaining confidence. ” Great cases like hard cases make bad law.” It doesn’t matter what party we may support, the MSM is ready to create a spectacle for any accused or implicated by that conniving POS. (sorry, no other description will do) Even if he is offed, his little black book will be raised above eye level — if we are to believe what is made out of it.

    Free Press v. Fair Trial is one conundrum of our liberty. Dragging a population through the nastiest kind of mud is a demoralizing factor that cannot be underestimated. We want to believe something can still keep us safe. Do we believe — the “social conscience” of the Media or the purported wisdom of judges?

    One glaring sad fact is that too many politicians do not rise to their position without help from power brokers. Those brokers want something out of the politically ambitious in order to keep them in line with their own agenda. They really don’t care about the social trust and are purposefully confounding it to undermine us from within. This is easily discernible on its face. Americans have been reduced to consuming cash cows instead of circumspect citizens. Rank Fascism, anyone? When were they planning to tell the rest of us?

    B. Franklin’s famous statement, “We have a republic if you can keep it,” is a loaded inference that the unscrupulous can bring it down. The national character was quite different then. Genuine virtue for it’s own sake was a common goal for the vast majority of the population. But along the way in our national pursuit of happiness, the love of power and money became a more appealing venture. Equal before the law became confused with “the greater good” of the … greedy.

    On a personal level, a broken truster is difficult to mend. Yet a desire to repair what is left can bring things back to a more rewarding level. But, it is lots of hard work and heartfelt communication. Who is willing to stick their neck out to stand in the breach with that kind of dedication? At this point in history we could call that person naïve or a dictator.

    So it seems we need to have a weapon in one hand and an outstretched hope in the other. But also — to lessen our anxiety level, we must make peace with our mortality, as a prep.

    The way I see it, one of the greatest threats we face is the group of peeps who have been brainwashed to believe that opinions which are contrary to their own are dangerous and therefore considered as violent — as if a punch in their face was actually thrown. They believe that their own violence against someone with a contrary opinion is self-defense. This level of fuzzy projecting semantics is even happening within families — my own included.

    No doubt about it, lines are being drawn and the threat is deadly. We’re almost to critical mass, methinks.
    Stinks to high heaven.

  • I normally do not comment on these articles, but, after reading “joebob”‘s comments I had to “say” something.

    He points out all the data collection that is going on in this and other countries. But, he needed to take it one step further.

    How can we trust any government or industry leader that obviously does not trust us? It’s a two-way street, and I for one am tired of dodging all the on-coming traffic!

  • Now that we have the Internet this has exacerbated the problem. But I never trusted the government before, I never really trusted the media anyways and I learned never to trust another human as the Bible says but I ALWAYS trusted mum and dad. 😉

  • Without TRUST even a traffic light won’t work. You don’t know if it is safe to go on green because you can’t trust that the other guy will stop on red. All of civilization is built on trust. Without it, you can’t have civilization.

    • OTOH, even if the light IS red, it’s always wise to look both ways before you cross. Just as there are people who ignore the rules of the road, there are those who feel that the laws of the country don’t apply to them for whatever reason. Then, if they are caught, they squawk about how they’re different because of xyz blah blah, and those who seek to thwart them are xyzists or blahphobic, etc.
      Our differences used to be our strength and ALL of the various groups were proud of being blank-Americans, but prouder still of being American.
      America USED to be, in people’s minds, “the greatest country in the world” and people were proud to say “I’m American”.
      Now the phrase is decried as being jingoistic, nationalistic and racist.
      A little rhetoric goes a long way to undermine a people’s confidence, and without confidence you cannot have trust.

  • I remember when Walter Cronkite was “the most trusted man in America” only to find later that he lied over and over again in his “news” broadcasts.

    I later took a couple of journalism classes at the university, and was taught that it was OK to lie to the audience. Oh, they didn’t teach that in so many words, but the meaning was clear.

    At one time in business a deal could be sealed with a handshake. Today it takes lawyers poring over the fine type, and even then contracts are broken.

    Politicians are now expected to lie, making promises they never expect to keep.

    For over two generations public schools in the U.S. have taught that anything goes, just don’t get caught. For longer they have opposed teaching reasons for morality.

    We can give example after example, but the pattern is clear.

    Then they wonder about the breakdown of trust in society?

  • *** REALITY NOW ***

    As the elites and corrupt-O-crats keep pushing their interests they are
    destroying what credibility citizens have left in this system, permanently damaging the Republic! And this is how empires go down!

    When the belief in the system is destroyed it is only a matter of time till it collapses.

    Historically it is difficult to know when you are in a civil war but it seems like it, albeit the guns have not come out yet…

  • THE LORD warned everyone,YOUR GOVERNMENT IS ROTTEN TO THE CORE,INSIDE AND OUT,TOP TO BOTTOM…and its true,they could care less about the very people they CONTROL,and their losing control,SOON america will be Forced by the endless corruption of them to revolt,OR BE MADE SLAVES TO THEM,and their NEW WORLD ORDER,…ANYONE who trusts the city council to the president is an IDIOT,their all criminals,and should be tried for treason,and the days coming they will be…

  • This is really really easy.
    The reason that the government can’t be trusted anymore is because if the constant LIES it has been telling us.
    The reason the media isn’t trusted anymore is because if the constant LIES it has been telling us.
    The reason people don’t trust each other anymore is because if the constant lies other people tell us.
    If all of this wants more trust then I suggest that they stop the corrupt behaviour that they need to LIE about to cover it up.
    That is of course if it’s still possible for them to do so.
    But alas I think most are too far gone & they can no longer help themselves.
    I just assume nowadays that the government, the media, institutions & other people are lying to me & I just don’t listen anymore,
    The scariest thing about all this is that they had to do a survey to find out why people don’t trust them anymore.
    But I suppose in a “ post truth world” they wouldn’t even believe their own results.
    They’re so far gone that it never occurred to them that people don’t trust them anymore because they are liars.

  • Let me restate my comment. We are angry and don’t trust the government because the government is spying on we the people and because the government allows industry to spy on we the people. We fear that the next time the left gets control of the administration and both houses of congress they will use the vast powers of both the government and industry to attempt to shut down all who disagree with the progressive (socialist, communist) viewpoint. We fear the government will sweep away all of we the people’s rights under the First and Second Amendments. We fear the government will attempt to sweep away all of the Constitution and attempt to impose a “big brother” type government, including a dictator. Most of the spying apparatus for this is already in place.

    This, without question, would cause a civil war or revolution or other violent armed conflict between the government and its minions on the left and all freedom loving people in this country. Likely the trucks will be stopped, and all preppers know what that means. Sadly, a race war will likely be part of this.

    At some point in the open rebellion conflict, we will likely see foreign troops on our soil. Perhaps they will be invited by the government or perhaps they will simply invade. Look for Russia, China, Mexico, Iran and other Muslim states and all opportunistic states.

  • In my opinion, the reason for the lack of trust that is pervasive in modern society is simple. With the exception of family and very close friends, everyone today wants to take what you have and give nothing in return. The Government, local, state, or federal, goes without saying, and most people you interact with these days want the same. What can you give me or what can I take from you? There is no longer any sense of community, sharing, or mutually beneficial co-existence. It vanished when the rural Agrarian age ended and the superficial and consumerism-obsessed modern electronic began. The best you can do is seek out a small circle where, perhaps, you can recapture a bit of the past. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.

  • This short quote from the article is key, IMHO…

    “Diminishing trust is viewed by some as a sign of cultural sickness and national decline. Others believe it is linked to what they perceive to be increased loneliness and excessive individualism.”

    Cultural sickness… check.
    National decline… check.
    Increased loneliness… check.
    Excessive individualism… ???

    What is excessive individualism? Is there such a thing as excessive collectivism?
    One forced-together blob of people is much easier to control than a bunch of free-thinking individuals running around.

  • Trust is earned , whether it is government bureaucrats ,policemen,your mayor, your next door neighbor or a family member. Actions speak far louder than words. I always look at actions.

  • I agree as I don’t trust anyone really. I’ve been like that a long time though and it has to do with being military and law enforcement. I see too much bad to think that good is predominant.
    What I’m seeing now is others who used to keep me grounded doing it so there is a definite problem.

  • Not a church goer,but a believer,so when you take the fear of God out of the people to treat people better,not rob them,beat them or harrass online,we will never be the same ,we are divided and will never trust the other side,or the media that pushes the left.term limits might help put trust in govt.

  • Trust is pushed by Hollywood and MSM because it is bad, not good for society. As American citizens it is our civic duty to criteque thos in power, not to become fans who see no wrong.

  • The mainstream media has lost its journalistic objectivity and integrity. They claim they are the defenders of democracy, as long as it is their version of democracy.
    And I thought that a long time before Trump announced his bid for the presidency.

    The government should be eyed with a degree of skepticism. The MSM championing one party and demonizing the other is a failure of democracy.

  • You Need More Than Food to Survive

    In the event of a long-term disaster, there are non-food essentials that can be vital to your survival and well-being. Make certain you have these 50 non-food stockpile essentials. Sign up for your FREE report and get prepared.

    We respect your privacy.
    Malcare WordPress Security