Americans identify 'the most important problem facing the country'

Shirts emblazoned with American flags for sale in Intercourse, Pennsylvania on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. (Photo by Joe Kovacs)
Shirts emblazoned with American flags for sale in Intercourse, Pennsylvania on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. (Photo by Joe Kovacs)

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A new poll shows there is not a majority of the American people that trusts the nation’s judicial branch.

Nor does a majority trust the executive branch.

And those who trust the legislation branch – do not make up a majority either.

A new polling from Gallup cites the continuing distrust Americans feel for their government, a trust that has been falling even further.

“The latest decline in Americans’ trust in the judicial branch of the federal government — to 47% — means this is the first time that none of the three branches is trusted by a majority of Americans. The average level of trust in the three branches is 43% this year, tying 2015 as the lowest in Gallup’s history,” the poll analysis said. “That year marked the previous low in trust in the judicial branch (53%); trust in the legislative branch (32%) was lower than it is now, while trust in the executive branch (45%) was similar to what it is today.”

The polling reported, “Americans continue to name the government as the most important problem facing the country as leaders in Washington struggle to find solutions to address inflation, illegal immigration, climate change and gun violence.”

Why is this?

“The erosion of trust is largely due to increasingly partisan evaluations of government institutions at a time when politics has become all-important. Republicans and Democrats are inclined to trust institutions when they are controlled by leaders they agree with but withhold trust when leaders don’t make decisions in line with their own political views or policy preferences. In a democratic society, Americans would ideally retain trust in their government institutions regardless of which party is in control, provided those leaders put the nation’s interests first and follow the Constitution, laws, procedures and norms that govern the operation of those institutions,” the report said.

The new poll shows only 47% of Americans trust the judicial branch, 43% the executive and 38% the legislative.

The White House is illuminated in gold light in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. (Official White House photo by Erin Scott)
The White House is illuminated in gold light in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. (Official White House photo by Erin Scott)

“Gallup previously reported that trust in the judicial branch of the federal government has cratered in the past two years; it now sits at 47%, below the majority level for the first time in Gallup’s polling history. At 43%, trust in the executive branch is just three percentage points above its record low from the Watergate era. Americans are even less trusting in the legislative branch, at 38%, but this figure has been as low as 28% in the past,” the organization reported.

When the measurement first was taken, in 1972, more than two-thirds trusted in each branch. As recently as 2005, majorities still trusted all three branches.

Trust in Congress always has been the lowest of the three numbers, with a record-low 28% trusting in 2014. Trust in the executive branch has hovered mostly below half. Trust in the judiciary has been higher, until recently.

Gallup said the partisan nature is evident.

“Trust in federal government branches is largely influenced by the match between a person’s political party identification and the controlling party of the institution. Democrats are currently far more likely than Republicans to trust the executive and legislative branches, given that Joe Biden is president and the Democratic Party controls both houses of Congress. But Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to trust the Supreme Court, which currently has six justices appointed by Republican presidents and three appointed by Democrats,” the poll report said.

In fact, there’s a difference of nearly 80 points in the trust level of Democrats and Republicans for the executive branch.

It explained, “trust among those who identify with the opposition party to the president — Republicans during Obama’s two terms, Democrats during the Donald Trump administration and Republicans now in Biden’s term — has continued to decline, falling to single digits under both Trump and Biden.”

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