Kopp Column: Americans Don't Trust Their Government


Not only are humans fallible, they are untrusting.  If humans trusted one another, they’d exist peacefully in a society without government.  This is not new.  More than 200 years ago,  Thomas Paine wrote:

“The strength of one man is unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling… but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing anything…. As the colony increases, public concerns will increase.”

With an increase in public concern comes a lack of trust. It is because people do not trust each other, governments are created. James Madison wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”  Of course Madison was not writing a document of theology when he omits that fully one-third of the angelic hosts are “fallen.”  Who wants to be governed by a “fallen angel?”

Conservatives believe government has a role in life, but only a role.  Governments are not the benevolent all-powerful, all-knowing ruler of all things.  Governments are as untrustworthy as a society, as the people in that society.

A recent release by the Pew Research Center is a startling as to say temperatures drop in the winter.  The organization reports most people feel threatened by the government, they do not trust the government. The report found here, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, says that for the first time since the question was asked in the poll, most Americans believe that the federal government does not protect, but instead threatens personal rights and freedoms.

A lack of trust is why, with profound wisdom America’s founding fathers improved upon the English principle of checks and balances by providing for three equal bodies of government to check and balance each other.  Today, that principle of checks and balances has been ignored.

Mr. Bush refused to balance Congress; he didn’t see a spending bill he didn’t like. He rubber-stamped everything.  Today, Mr. Obama draws a line in the sand and dares Republicans to step across.  If Republicans were conservatives, they would welcome that balance and would rise with equal checks against the executive office.  But alas, being a Republican is not the same as being a conservative.

Further adding to the untrustworthiness of government, is the lack of accountability.  For that, conservatives believe they must look neither to an institution, nor a document but to one another, to voters who have abdicated their duty and role as an informed electorate.

It is the duty of the three branches of government to check and balance each other. It is the duty of Americans to be informed and to take an active role in holding the government accountable. It is why you, dear reader, follow the Say Anything Blog. It is why you debate topics, events and principles, because you are a small part of a dwindling element of America – an informed electorate, but you are also part of a sad majority of Americans, those who do not trust the government.