A Well-Founded Loss of Confidence in American Government

by Jim Geraghty

Today from Gallup: “Americans’ confidence in all three branches of the U.S. government has fallen, reaching record lows for the Supreme Court (30 percent) and Congress (7 percent), and a six-year low for the presidency (29 percent). The presidency had the largest drop of the three branches this year, down seven percentage points from its previous rating of 36 percent.”

Considering the state of the economy and economic opportunity, health care, the Middle East ablaze, scandals, screw-ups and corruption at the IRS, NSA and VA with a crackdown on whistleblowers, chaos on our southern border with a deluge of unattended children, and gas prices hitting a six-year high despite a boom in domestic oil production… that lack of confidence appears spectacularly well-founded.

This is not a good environment to be a longtime government official — say, a former senator and Secretary of State asking Americans to see you as the right person to clean up the mess. As stated in today’s Jolt, “the problem for Hillary is that acknowledging the obvious would showcase her as the anti-populist candidate of 2016. She became immensely wealthy because of her political power, which smells a lot like cashing in on one’s elected office — toxic at a time when Americans feel like their elected officials don’t listen to them and don’t understand their struggles in this persistently lousy economy.”

Or as Kevin Williamson puts it:

Political power outlasts political office: Hillary Clinton is no longer secretary of state or a senator or in any of the other positions she has held as a form of tribute paid to her husband; but she very well may be a future president. She has been paid an enormous advance on a book that almost certainly will not justify that expenditure, and collects speech honoraria that are, if not quite up at her husband’s stratospheric levels, nonetheless substantial. What is she being paid for? It is hard to see how economic value, strictly understood, explains that… Political power is worth investing in, and worth renting when it is needed.

Considering the evidence, why should Americans have confidence in their government?

Governing is a lot harder than it looks from the outside.