Americans, it seems, are growing increasingly dubious, skeptical, even cynical about many of their once-hallowed institutions.
These include especially Congress. But any such disapproval list also contains TV news, newspapers, unions, public schools and even the criminal justice system.
Only two institutions — the military and small business — hold an overwhelming net positive opinion in the minds of Americans. The volunteer military has by far the most public confidence — 94 percent with a great deal or some confidence in it. Only five percent have none, according to a new Gallup phone survey of 1,520 adult Americans..
Small business draws some or a lot of confidence from 83 percent, with only six percent none. “The police” have 85 percent with at least some confidence, but a large number of no confidence — 15 percent.
After those institutions the confidence numbers decline rather rapidly, suggesting if continued a long-term threat to political stability. More on that below.
Organized religion draws some confidence from 71 percent, but none from 11 percent. The presidency in general has 37 percent a lot of confidence, 18 some and 44 none.
The Supreme Court 37, 42 and 18; the medical system 36, 37, 26; banks 30, 46, 22; public schools 29, 44, 27; and organized labor 26, 45, 25.
Then comes big business with 25, 43 and 30; newspapers 23, 35 and 40 for a net negative of 17; our system of criminal justice 22, 31 and 46 for a net negative of 14; television news 20, 34,and 45 for a negative 25.
Congress brings up the tail end with only 11 percent having a lot of confidence, 39 percent some and a whopping 48 percent none, giving the national legislature a net negative confidence of 37.
This is, of course, merely one poll, albeit a respected one and a snapshot of opinion in June 2018. But it does provide a revealing glimpse into a representation of public opinion and at least a partial explanation for why more than half of Americans so consistently say the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Long-term historically in many countries such widespread sentiments have encouraged or at least permitted aberrant political movements and leaders to come to power.