Americans Are Angry at the Government

Pew's poll doesn't just find discontent; it finds anger

Pew has a new poll out suggesting that "[b]y almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days," and that, while people have been frustrated with the government for some time (the mid-50% range has been common since 1997), people are now more angry: 21% now say they are "angry" when describing their feeling toward the federal government--up 5% from last year, and the only time Pew's anger numbers have cracked 20% in the last 13 years, except 2006.

30% now say the government is a "major threat" to them. (43% of those who say so are Republicans; 18%, Democrats; 33%, independents.)

Here's a graph showing how trust in government and satisfaction with the state of the nation have plummeted (linked to Pew's interactive version):
Pew trust in gov graph 2.jpg

No wonder the present conservative movement is pushing for smaller government; no wonder Tea Partyism has found such traction in the current climate.

For explanations of why people are so angry, see The Atlantic Wire's John Hudson, who runs through commentary on Pew's poll and finds explanations in the financial crisis, dissatisfaction with Obama, and the poll itself being bogus (according to one blogger).

Over at the Business Channel, Derek Thompson blames Nixon and stagflation, the recession, and partisanship.