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The Source: Trust In Government At All-Time, Polling Low

Flickr user Adam Fagen (afagen)

This might be hard to believe, but there was a time when people trusted the government to do the right thing "always or most of the time."

In the early 1970s over 50% of people felt that way, with a large number also in the "only some of the time" category.

Then there was Watergate and the Nixon resignation, the latter's 40th anniversary was over the weekend. 

Since the mid 70s, trust in government has been on a slow decline, rebounding in the late 90s peaking after 9/11, and now, according to a recent CNN/OCR International poll, the percentage of people who trust that the government can be consistently trusted "always or most of the time" is at 13%; the lowest it has ever been reported.

What does it mean for governing? How did we get here?


  • Thomas Mann, congressional scholar, senior fellow at Brookings and author of the books "Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to get it back on Track" and "It's Even Worse than it Looks."
  • Bruce Buchanan, professor of government at the University of Texas, author of numerous books on the presidency including "The Citizen's Presidency" and "Renewing Presidential Politics."

*This is the first segment in the August 13 edition of The Source, which airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM.  

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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive