Port: As trust in government declines, our demands for government intervention increases


MINOT, N.D. — In 1964, about eight years before the Watergate scandal took down Richard Nixon, and more than a decade before our military’s ignominious exit from Vietnam, about 77% of Americans said they trust the government.

That number, tracked over the decades by the Pew Foundation , has been in steady decline ever since, with only brief rebounds during the Reagan and Clinton administrations. As of May 2022, just 20% of Americans say they trust their government.

And yet, paradoxically, we continue to demand that the government intervene in our lives in increasingly granular ways that go well beyond mass deficit spending on behemoth social programs. What is the culture war if not a struggle, played out in government from Congress and cabinet-level federal agencies down to the local school board, to weaponize the government against people we disagree with.

We say we don’t trust government, except when it’s time to use government to chasten the left. Or the right. Or whatever ideological group is the perceived perpetrators of offenses against good taste and sensible pieties.

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