The problem, apparently, is cognitive dissonance. Sure, we have concerns about terrorism and the economy and health care, but when it comes to this country’s inability to tackle problems, the real issue is our inability to think straight.
That is the condensed summary of the latest poll from the Pew Research Center. The good people at Pew recently unveiled a survey that found just 19 percent of Americans trust the federal government to do what is right all the time or most of the time.
Nothing wrong with that. Goodness knows, government at every level has plenty of dunderheads trying to run things — just like any other organization. And yet, as Joel Mathis of Philadelphia Magazine writes, “Americans may not trust their government, but they sure want it to do a lot of stuff. And a lot of the stuff they want government to do, they think it does well. Dive deeper into the Pew survey and you’ll see that healthy majorities of Americans polled see an expansive role for government in American life.”
You know, a role in responding to natural disasters, or setting standards for the workplace, or ensuring safe food and medicine. Polls show that the American public overwhelmingly wants the federal government to be involved in these things, and the public gives that government high marks for how it manages them.
Or take government at the local level. Have you visited a park lately? Had your garbage picked up? Taken water from the tap? All of those civilized comforts are the result of a government that has managed to keep things running smoothly.