Failure of Confidence

I was going to write a post about the loss of confidence in a significant number of institutions, e.g. the Federal Reserve, the Supreme Court, the Catholic Church. When I started I realized that I struggled to think of any institutions in which we retained substantial confidence.

That has been developing for quite a number of years. Gone are the days in which a newscaster is the most trusted person in America. I have two questions.

First, is there widespread (and well-deserved) confidence in any institutions these days? And second is it merely as Mme. de Cornuel put it more than 200 years ago that “no man is a hero to his valet”, i.e. when you know enough about anybody it tends to lower your confidence in them, or is there something new at work?

4 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    I see it a bit differently. It looks to me like trust in institutions is largely dependent upon who is in power and what the particular institution has done lately. The GOP now thinks SCOTUS is wonderful. The GOP loved the FBI when they found the emails, not so much when they investigated Trump. Not many people like Congress but people like their individual congressperson, if they are of the same party and for that matter they are OK with either house in Congress if it belongs to their party. Its all tribal.

    Fro non-political institutions it is mostly the same. Dems still think medicine and science are OK, GOP doesnt like them. Dems dont trust people selling miracle pills and food supplements, GOP does. GOP believes everything from Fox. Dems trust NYT.


  • Not many people like Congress but people like their individual congressperson

    That was much truer 30 years ago. Gallup hasn’t asked the question in the last several years. The last time was in 2019 but the own Congressman approval rating then was 53%. I would characterize that as “just enough to get re-elected” rather than “like their own congressperson”.

  • steve Link

    But that 53% would be those whose party is affiliated with he current congressperson. What you will see is that when they rate congressman X if he is a Republican that 85% of the Republicans approve and 85% of the Democrats disapprove and vice versa if X is a Dem. Individual congresspeople can do things to alter this but largely it will be tribal.

    This will be a bit different than rating education. There was a poll on this a few months ago. In general people rate education poorly but their own kids teachers highly. Conservatives tend towards lower ratings for education in general and Dems higher but both groups like their kids teachers. With covid teachers took a bit of a hit, which I think is probably merited in at least some ways, but it still showed people liked their teachers which makes sense since they can get to know the teachers. They know their teachers arent teaching CRT or trying to tuen kids gay, its other teachers.


  • walt moffett Link

    Looking over Gallup’s polling on confidence in US institutions, over all only tow groups rate about 50% this year, small businesses and the military. I can understand the first, a successful small business needs trust by its customers to stay in business. The second I will leave up for interpretation.

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