A recent study by the Reagan Presidential Foundation has illustrated whether or not the American people trust the people who run the country. The survey asked whether participants trust or distrust the following: the police, the military, the President, Congress, and the media.
In the period of 2018 to 2021, researchers found that the public has grown skeptical of the military and police forces. In that period, the number of people who had a “great deal of trust” in the American military fell from 70% to 56%: a decline of 14 percent. During that same period, the percentage who claimed they trusted the American police forces fell from 50% to 39%. Additionally, from 2018-2021, trust in the president rose to 30%, trust in Congress rose from 5% to 10%, while trust in the American media fell from 16% to 14%.
Additionally, the Reagan Presidential Foundation, regarding the public approval of the military, noted that “the military declined in trust across all major demographic subgroups (including age, gender, and party affiliation) by double-digit percentage points.” Illustrating this, it was found that 44% of African Americans and 51% of women trusted the U.S. military. Meanwhile, only 38% of Americans under the age of 30 displayed trust in their military.
The survey also looked into the partisan divides of such trust issues. Such surveys found that around 87% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats approved of an increase in defense spending. Surveys also found that, when asked to identify the greatest threat to American sovereignty, 37% of Americans identified the People’s Republic of China (China) as the greatest threat, to the United States, while 16% identified the Russian Federation (Russia) as the greater threat. In 2018, contrastly, 30% picked Russia, while some 21% chose China– possibly hinting at the growing awareness amongst Americans of Chinese crimes against humanity, as seen in the Uyghur genocide.
Regarding the ones who have fallen from public favor in this short three years– the military, the police, and the press– there are speculations as to why their favorability has faded. In the case of the military, the most prominent explanations for their withered reputation revolve around the recent American involvement in the Syrian Civil War and the Biden Administration’s stationing of U.S. troops in Washington D.C. during the presidential inauguration. These two events were both fresh in the minds of the participants while being surveyed, thus, it’s likely that they both influenced their responses. Meanwhile, public opinion of both the police and the media has been steadily decreasing long before 2018. With the police facing much criticism, most notably being that associated with Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd, their public reputation has been steadily withering away. Meanwhile, much of the mainstream media has become politically polarized, each network pandering to a specific audience’s political thought. This has, no doubt, left their audiences feeling a little bit taken advantage of.
If anything, this survey shows the people running the United States that ‘We, the People–’ the American people– don’t trust them. Even for the ones whose reputations improved since 2018, they’re still not looked up to by the American public. Is it a problem when only 10% of the people in a country trust their legislature? How about when only 30% trust the head of state? Only time will tell.
ARTICLE: CARSON WOLF
U.S. NEWS EDITOR: CARSON WOLF
PHOTO CREDITS: NPR