In Nothing We Trust & Down With Everything
This is an excellent piece at the National Journal by Ron Fournier and Sophie Quinton about the reasons American institutions – both public and private – have lost the trust the American people once had in them. We may not come from a rosy picture, but we’re definitely heading into a dark alley in American history – one we may not come back out of.
Muncie is a microcosm of a nation whose motto could be, “In Nothing We Trust.” Seven in 10 Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track; eight in 10 are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed. Only 23 percent have confidence in banks, and just 19 percent have confidence in big business. Less than half the population expresses “a great deal” of confidence in the public-school system or organized religion. “We have lost our gods,” says Laura Hansen…
This actually dovetails perfectly with a piece the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman wrote yesterday, “Down With Everything,” explaining how the United States has changed from a democracy to a “vetocracy.” According to “Frank Fukuyama, the Stanford professor and author of The End of History and the Last Man “, who Friedman quotes liberally, a vetocracy is “from a system designed to prevent anyone in government from amassing too much power to a system in which no one can aggregate enough power to make any important decisions at all.”
Indeed, America today increasingly looks like the society that the political scientist Mancur Olson wrote about in his 1982 classic “The Rise and Decline of Nations.” He warned that when a country amasses too many highly focused special-interest lobbies — which have an inherent advantage over the broad majority, which is fixated on the well-being of the country as a whole — they can, like a multilimbed octopus, choke the life out of a political system, unless the majority truly mobilizes against them.
It is no wonder, at all, why we do not trust our public institutions – and our private institutions have left us behind to prosper without us. This isn’t cynicism, it’s simply a people woken up in a dark alley with no way out.
Frank Fukuyama: “Then we will never be a great country again, no matter who is elected.”