Some students lose trust in U.S. government

Source: Chapman University Survey of American Fears. Graphic by Lorig Yaghsezian.

Scrolling through her Twitter feed, Jessica Tredota is bombarded with political movements and campaigns that oppose President Donald Trump’s decisions. Although she didn’t fully trust the government before Trump took office, she has even less faith in it now, Tredota said.

About seventy-four percent of Americans surveyed worry about the corruption of government officials, according to Chapman’s annual study of American fears. On Oct. 30, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted three Trump advisers after he found evidence that they were coordinating with Russia and had made attempts to hinder his rival, Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 presidential election, according to The New York Times.

As a result, some Chapman students have lost trust in the government due to doubts about the administration.

“I can’t trust the current government as much as before (the 2016 presidential election) because I don’t think (Trump’s) administration has everyone’s best interest in mind. It’s centered toward a specific group of people, like the elite, and a lot of different groups aren’t being represented,” the sophomore strategic and corporate communications major said.

Tina Ziobro, a freshman television writing and production major, feel similarly once Trump took office because of his character, she said.

“I don’t trust Trump as a public speaker or a representative for us because he is a little impulsive in what he says. I don’t believe that Trump is as open-minded as I’d like, so there’s a distrust in him to be open-minded,” Ziobro said.

Due to Trump’s strong partisanship, Ziobro believes this will result in less compromise within the government and fewer changes in public policies. As for how the public can regain that trust, Ziobro said that implementing different viewpoints from government officials could help add perspective.

Political science professor John Compton agrees that there is a relationship between distrust in government and policy deadlock.

“When you see polls showing that the trust in government is at an all-time low, most people clearly don’t trust the government, but a lot of that has to do with the feeling that government is gridlocked and unproductive. A lot of the time, people naturally assume it’s because elected officials are corrupt,” Compton said.

However, the Trump administration, or any person in government, is not to blame for this low percentage in government trust, he said.

“There was massive involvement by Russia trying to influence our election, but we don’t know for sure the extent to which the Trump campaign was aware of that. But even if they weren’t aware of that, just the fact of a foreign power intervening plants doubts in people’s minds and causes them to have less trust in the government,” Compton said.

While Compton believes that most government officials and employees are trustworthy, he also acknowledges that they are generally more interested in getting elected or re-elected than in the country’s well-being, he said.

“It becomes more about the effects of our political systems as a whole rather than the bad motivations of particular members of Congress or other office holders,” Compton said.

Jack Meisel, a sophomore screenwriting and history major, has never trusted the government, he said. He supported neither Clinton nor Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and he can’t trust the current administration either, he said.

“I didn’t even feel like I trusted the Obama administration, much less Trump,” Meisel said.

Meisel believes that the U.S government has become more complex in order to make the majority of people stay confused and uneducated. The loss of trust is partly because the public doesn’t want to understand politics, and partly because the government system can be complex, he said.

To deal with this, Meisel offers a solution.

“You should never trust the government (to begin with). There’s always going to be stuff going on that is best kept from us because the government will be more efficient that way and they can solve problems without getting people involved,” Meisel said.

1 Comment

  • So Trump wants to get the government less involved with the economy, taxes, foreign affairs, spying etc, and this has caused liberals to trust the government less?

    It just shows that no matter what Trump does, liberals will say that it is bad because they have attached their identity to being correct. To admit they are wrong is the same as them admitting that their identity is disingenuous and just an act.

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