Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation, and as a poll from CNN revealed, it decimated the American public’s trust in the government.
Currently, 13% of Americans polled say that they trust that the government does the right thing “always or most of the time,” while only 76% believe that the government behaves “some times”. In this age of political cynicism, this isn’t a surprising finding. But were you aware that there was once a time when nearly half of Americans actually had faith in their government officials?
It’s true! It sounds like a fairy tale, but it’s true!
“The number who trust the government all or most of the time has sunk so low that it is hard to remember that there was ever a time when Americans routinely trusted the government,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.
“But polls conducted by the University of Michigan consistently found a majority of Americans in the 1960s and early 1970s saying that the government could be trusted all or most of the time – until Watergate. In 1972, 53% said they trusted the government always or most of the time. By 1974, that figure had plummeted to 36%, and except for a brief period of patriotic sentiment immediately after the 9/11 attacks, it has remained under 50% ever since,” Holland added.
Tellingly, people of a certain age remember Watergate differently: a “majority” of people over the age of 40 regard Watergate as a “very serious problem,” while a majority of people under 40 thought it was “just politics,” and that Frank Underwood could eat Nixon for breakfast.
(The people over 40 had no idea who this Frank Underwood person was.)
[Image via Shutterstock]
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