On “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” conservative columnist Peggy Noonan made an observation that echoes a finding that KF has found in much of its research about citizens’ judgment on major issues:
Here’s where I think the problem is, I think Congress is attempting to act in a way that ignores a central fact. The central fact is that nobody in America really trusts Congress...The reason Americans don’t trust these big bills is because they think so much mischief is hidden inside.
In Kettering research on how the public sees various major issues, ranging from the national debt to the role of government, a recurring theme is that people don’t feel they can trust the government to fix any problem, even the problems they do believe it’s government’s job to address. This lack of trust in lawmakers’ ability to accomplish anything of value further alienates all but the most partisan of citizens, which reinforces the vicious circle of polarization. For more information about citizens’ distrust of government, check out: • No Easy Way Out (citizen deliberations on the national debt) • Don’t Count Us Out (confidence-destroying effects of accountability movement) • Reassessing the Relationship Between the Public and Government (Connections, 2003)