Reading time – 47 seconds; viewing time – 2:23  .  .  .

Thirty-five years ago we learned that the nine most frightening words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Ronald Reagan told us that over and over as he campaigned to become president of the United States, effectively appealing to people’s fears and accelerating our loss of trust.

Here’s a chart from the Gallup Organization on trust in our own government. (Click on the graph for an expanded view.) Gallup Trust in GovernentThe downward trend is unmistakable and is due in part to the continuing message from Republicans that government cannot be trusted. Obviously, trust is undermined by hard facts, too, like Johnson’s “credibility gap,” Nixon’s criminal activities, Clinton’s philandering and Bush II lying us into two wars, but do not underestimate the power of the Big Lie.

Predating Reagan’s attack on government  was a Republican attack on our news media. You may recall that Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew was President Nixon’s public hatchet man and he rejoiced in calling the members of our news media, “effete intellectual snobs,” and “nattering nabobs of negativity.” He saved his choicest words for what he called the “eastern liberal press,” a sneaky way to divide and conquer. Then he resigned in the face of charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery and conspiracy. He is considered by many to have been the worst vice-president in U.S. history. Still, he was successful in starting the smear campaign on our news media.

That campaign continues unabated today, with more than Gallup Trust in Media Graphscreechy Sarah Palin invoking the label “lame stream media,” to the point that now less than half of Americans trust our news media.

Surely, there are many reasons for our distrust, but there is no doubt that the constant repetition from Republicans that you can’t trust our news media has hastened the decline of our trust.

The Republican drum beat of distrust of government and the press has continued unabated for decades. Why is it, then, that Republicans don’t understand it when fringe, hateful pretenders to the throne are preferred by “the base” – the pissy people who show up and vote – and they throw establishment Republican politicians into the political gutter? Gotta be painful when the crap they threw to manipulate us gets tossed back in their faces. They won’t get any sympathy from me any time soon.


Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

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6 Responses to Trust
  1. dominick Reply

    If people don’t trust our government or corporate controlled media, this is a likely explanation why so many do not register to vote, and don’t bother to vote even when they are registered. Both Democrat and Republican politicians alike demonize each other and use other divisive tactics to prey on the fears of voters. While Republicans have more money to promote fear mongering in the media, Democrats generally try to organize on the ground to gather up voters like cattle to go voting. However, both encourage voting in elections knowing full well that once they are elected, they can ignore the promises they have made to their constituents once in office.

    Having our voices restricted to voting in elections diminishes what we traditionally value as our freedom of speech. If our elected officials have no legal obligation to respond to us, what value has freedom of speech with regard to our government in the redress of grievances? Sure, we can send letters, sign petitions and march in the streets all we want to protest government decisions. However, we have no legal right to actually interfere with their decisions to make, block or repeal laws.

    If you think our freedom of speech actions mean anything, can you explain why we continue to have lax guns laws that allow domestic terrorists and the mentally disturbed easy access? Or why some of our wealthiest corporations and individuals pay little or no taxes, while their profits and incomes have exponentially increased? Is there any evidence that the American voter supports the laws and regulations politicians have created and continue to maintain these deplorable situations?

    The fact is, there is no reason in this 21st century to continue allowing elected officials to have autonomous authority to act independently, without our input. Every individual in our executive and legislative branches of government can now poll their constituents before they make decisions on passing or rejecting laws. This is my proposal to begin the process of establishing accountability and transparency in government. If you are a frustrated voter, you need to learn what real accountability and transparency mean, not the worthless definitions offered by politicians. To learn more, visit my web site.

    BTW Jack, like the video posts!

    • JaxPolitix Reply

      In preparing this essay I put serious thought into who does the overt demonizing and trust killing of government and the media. I couldn’t come up with the name of a single Democrat. While I don’t think even for a minute that all Democrats are cheery Eagle Scouts, on this issue I don’t see any equivalency. It is a one-sided campaign to undermine our institutions. I suppose that Republicans think that will benefit them long term. It surely has done a fine job of lining their pockets for decades.

  2. Jim Altschuler Reply

    Mom taught us “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” (i.e, shut up). Since I can’t think of a single nice thing to say about the various factions of the Republican party or the things that they say and/or do, so I’m shutting up!

  3. Joni Lindgren Reply

    Trust has been seriously eroded by the Koch brothers who are paying off the Republicans and any Democrats who take their money to spew anti-government rhetoric. If you read this article on “What the Koch brothers Really Want”, you’ll see that the Republicans and some Democrats are in the pocket of the Kochs! They want to buy our government and run it according to their ideologies….such as they are. By attacking all things “government” and “mass media”, you take control of what people think and can/can’t do.

    Harry Reid knew what the Kochs were up to and, obviously, Bernie knows too.

    The Kochs just want to rape our land, air and oceans and RAPE OUR MINDS!! They are public enemy number 1!!


  4. Frtank Levy Reply

    Jack – Thank you for reminding us of the lengths Republicans and conservatives have gone and will continue to go to defame, undermine and discredit the integrity and trustworthiness of the (mainstream) media. Their well-planned, well-executed plan to demean the media, to make the media irrelevant, and take the media out of the game as a pillar of the American democratic process has made it possible for conservatives/Republicans to hide their real political and social agenda, their racism, their bigotry and their war and fear mongering. Shaming the media makes it possible for Republicans to bury from view the negative impact of Republican policies on the lives of the American people, as well as their efforts to suppress the vote of poor and minority people and communities so they can continue to win Congressional, state and local school board elections.

    But, the Republicans could not have done this without the help of the (mainstream) media. The media has been the handmaiden of Republicans and conservatives in their effort to discredit, undermine and make irrelevant the media by continually refusing to challenge the “facts” Republicans, conservatives, and the Koch Brothers spew forth in their campaign to win elections, control the social agenda, promote war and diffuse all discussion of the dangers and reality of climate change. The media repeatedly demonstrates a lack of courage by failing to challenge Republicans and conservatives on their “facts,” “logic,” and intentions. Time after time we see “journalists” introduce as “experts,” individuals they know to be spokespersons for very conservative organizations, think tanks and politicians without ever challenging or fact checking the statements or logic of these “experts.”

    Yes, Republicans and conservatives have done everything they can to discredit the mainstream media, but the media, by its lack of courage, fact-checking, preparation, and professional journalistic integrity and skills has aided Republicans and conservative efforts to make the media either a tool of the conservative movement or irrelevant altogether.