Do you trust the government?

A Pew Research survey finds that most Americans distrust the federal government, and that only 1 in 5 trusts Washington most of the time. Today’s Question: Do you trust the government?

  • Gary F


    Ask an American Indian that.

    I still get a kick out of all the people that despised Bush during the last eight years that are now since their guy is in office, they want to hand over all their freedom to him.

    Wake up people, your guy probably gone in two years, just to have another “evil child killing Rebublican” as president!

    Self reliance people! Freedom!

    Those who trade freedom for security deserve and end up with neither. Ben Franklin.

    I love my freedom too much to just hand it over to the government!

  • Deb

    On the whole, yes. Something we must we remember…..WE are the government. So, if we do not trust government, we do not trust ourselves. It is good to question ourselves and government…that is good and that is patriotic.

  • Cynthia

    YES! the government is us – we are the government – trust ourselves

  • Sure I trust the government, but I count my change.

  • Clark

    NO WAY – Obama and the socialist democrats currently in power want nothing less then total control of all aspects of the economy. They only believe in their far left freedom which is not my freedom. I can only hope the voters now realize the huge mistake they made voting obama and the democrats into power. Divided governmnet works best as it forces compromises.

  • Carolyn

    We are the government. How honest are you? Did you exaggerate your deductions on your taxes? If you found a 20 dollar billwould you keep it or turn it into the police?

  • Nathan Hrobak

    Yes! I trust The Government to uphold the core values on which this country was founded. I also trust that the men and women who make up our fine Government will make mistakes in the course of upholding those values. C’est la vie.

  • bill

    This is an old question about cronyism and corruption in politics. I trust government workers who are often dedicated, intelligent, hard working folks. I don’t trust the political appointees that run departments to further their own fortunes and those of their parties. Take the current financial industry “reform” and the current Goldman-Sachs suit. The common phrase is “bad mortgages”. Where did those come from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and brokers, real estate agents committing fraud. The current “reform” and the suit are pandering to the masses while the leadership rakes in the cash from contributors.

  • Hermes

    Far more than I trust that mob of tea baggers

  • Linda

    Yes, I do. I may not agree with every decision but I do my very best to know who I am voting for and why. I really think people have been hit very hard by this economy and are more frustrated than anything else.

  • Chris

    Fundamentally, I do trust the government. I think that elected officials, at least most of them, are doing what they believe is right for the people of this country. People are responding to so many different issues when they react so strongly to the government’s actions. Sadly, the flames are being fanned by the poor economy, inflammatory statements (yes, some from those in government), and many other variables. Mr. Obama has become a lightening rod, despite doing a good job; he’s a perfect focus for the angst in many people right now, an easy target. I think we are making good progress.

  • bill Would you trust anyone who got so much money from Goldman-Sachs? The president and all those writing legislation should return Goldman-Sachs contributions.

  • Terry

    Yes, I do trust the government. I am more frustrated with the positioning of our Senators & Representatives (in St. Paul and Washington). Too many issues have polarizing results due to the rhetoric.

  • Steven

    Sure, I distrust the government, but I distrust big business even more.

    The trouble with the government is, it’s made up of people, and people too often put self-interest ahead of the common good. Same goes for corporations. Same goes for non-profits, churches, clubs, sports teams, families, etc. Still, it would be even worse if we were to abolish all those things just because they can’t be perfectly trustworthy. Anyone who thinks a mob of individuals (think Tea Party) is any more trustworthy than organized groups of human beings is simply delusional.

  • Karen Johnson

    Good morning,

    If we do not trust the government, then we do not trust ourselves. The Consitution was written to create a government “for the people and by the people”. If we don’t trust the government, then we can change it!

  • Joe Schaedler

    The question should be: Do I trust the American government more than the American people as a whole?

    Considering the bevvy of short-sighted knee-jerk stances taken en majority masse by voting bodies of Americans time and time again over the past 30+ years, I’d say the government is more like the one eyed man leading the blind.

  • Donna

    Pretty much the only people that don’t trust government are tea partiers who, because some right wing white guy isn’t in office think government and the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. I say it’s just so they can cover up their racism. Obama’s no more of a socialist than Jack Kennedy was.

  • Deeks

    These creeps who don’t trust the government thought nothing of it when Bush started two wars and spied on Americans. These people are a bunch of phony’s Given that GM is paying back the 1st installment of the loan, I’d say Obama did the right thing, saving GM and thousands of jobs.

  • P. Nielsen

    Most of these folks are demonstrating their ignorance of how the government works, most likely taking as “gospel” what they hear and see on right-wing talk radio and television. Another picture of those who continue to shoot themselves in the foot by falling for lies and untruths from that group of hateful individuals. Until there is real fairness coming from radio and television, this will go on and on. I do not believe schools are teaching people much about the history or the country or how government works, and this, too, drives movements such as tea party, militias, etc. It’s nothing but pure stupidity and ignorance.

  • David

    I trust the state to look out for my interests but I do not trust the federal government. It is self-evident that the Congress is only concerned with two things: Getting reelected and supporting the monied interests that keep them there. Our government has long ceased to be of the people, by the people.

  • Bob Franklin

    It is not so much a trust issue, as opposed to a competentcy issue. The larger govt gets, at any level, the less competent it appears to be.


    1. Their were numerous regulatory agencies which could have/should have prevented the financial crisis. They were not competent to see the problem and solve it.

    2. The acheivement gap in schools. No amount of money has made a dent in closing the acheivement gap.

  • Benjamin Peterson

    Unfortunately, the public face of the government seems to be the elected officials. We forget about the life long civil servants who keep the government running and actually represent most of what the government is. I trust them.

  • Barry

    Yes I do trust our government, after all it is led by those we elected.

    Who I do not trust are elected individuals serving only their self interests or the interests of moneyed lobbyists. This is where our “democracy” is failing. Unfortunately we have moved away from Government “of, by and for” the people to one that more often serves the needs of special interests – interests that are often at odds with what is best for “we the people”.

  • I do not trust our current leaders in Washington, but I do trust we can pick better ones. We need swifter, more people-focused government with corporate influence and lobbying removed as much as possible. I suggest we utilize modern and secure technology to allow the American people to vote more frequently on big issues. Maybe online or by mobile device? We do it for television, let’s do it for US.

  • Craig

    I believe incentives predict behavior.

    A large industrial lobby can offer campaign funds, rhetorical support, press manipulation, backroom advocacy, and a high salary, post-public career. All of which are gently put forth by the best schmoozers in the nation.

    All I can offer is gratitude for one’s service.

    These are the competing incentives, what behavior should we predict?

  • Comments texted to MPR:

    Trust the government? Of course, trust it to be slow to action and inefficient in most areas. Also trust it too spend too much money. -Tim Zweber, Elko

    My trust is growing. At least i feel now we won’t be lied to in order to start a war. -Mike, Savage

    No way do I trust any level of government. Especially the Feds no matter what party. They are all owned by special interests. -Gary, Plymouth

    Trust takes time. President Obama is addressing issues that have destroyed trust. We should give him a full eight years and see the difference. -anonymous

  • James


    I do trust the founding fathers constitution…. we should all read it once or twice.

    Since the Korean war or leaders have positioned this country away from these basic ideals.

    We need less government, and more personal responsibility.

    We need to stop fighting wars that no one wants, make products here, stop spending money that PRC is loaning us, control illegal immigration, and get education geared more towards science (as opposed to legal / financial).


  • EAL

    In a free society, citizens must trust the government. At issue today is the ever growing reach of government. This is especially true at the federal level where the U.S. Constitution was adopted to “limit the role of the federal government.” In a free society, government cannot, and should not, be all things to all people. Paraphrasing remarks one of the founding fathers, “Those willing to forgo security for liberty deserve neither.” It is not the government I do not trust as much as the citizens who place more emphasis on Britney Spears, LaBron James and American Idol than understanding and participating in the processes that have allowed the United States to be the greatest country in the history of human existence.

  • David Weisser

    I certainly trust this administration a great deal more than the last one. I believe the previous administration brought us the greatest loss of privacy from government intrusion we have ever experienced. But because they said they were ‘patriots’, and we were ‘terrorist lovers’ if we didn’t like it, and they kept it a secret, we had to put up with it.

  • bob h

    Do I trust the rank and file government workers? You bet I do.

    Do I trust the political leadership of either major party, or the heads of the various bureaucracies and fiefdoms? No, based on any number of deceitful, immoral, illegal and self-serving recent and past decisions/actions.

  • Robert

    I don’t have much trust for the government (as in, our political leaders), but I trust big business much less, and I believe that government is the only force large and powerful enough to set and enforce health, safety and environmental parameters for the behavior of corporations (who would otherwise in many cases shove these issues aside completely in favor of increased profits.)

    I do trust the government far more at present than I did during the Bush years, and hope that our governemnt is working back toward performing the role mentioned above.

    I also do think that a robust government is necessary, and I am frustrated by folks like the Republicans and Tea Party who seem to think that roads, fire departments, police, teachers, clean drinking water, safe food and so many other things are somehow forces of nature that would just happen on their own. We need government to provide these services, and while I am as stingy and selfish as the next guy, I am happy to pay my taxes for these services. I am also happy to pay my taxes so that people who fall on hard times have a safety net, if for no other reason than that it could be me in their shoes someday.

    I see government’s purpose as doing for us what we as individuals cannot reasonably do for ourselves: I don’t know of any reasonable person of reasonable means who can honestly argue that everyone should be “take responsibility” on their own (in addition to working their full-time jobs and raising families) to be their own police force and fire department, keep their personal food and drinking water supply safe, keep corporations from polluting and hold them accountable if they do, make sure the roads in front of their homes are maintained, altruistically clean up the trash by the side of the freeway even though they don’t personally own the freeway, make sure that when they flush the toilet it goes someplace that won’t harm others, make sure that no self-centered hunter can wipe out the state’s entire deer population on a whim and throw our ecosystem out of balance, etc. etc. etc. I don’t have the time or energy for all that, I don’t want to live in a country where I’m expected to, and I am more likely to trust a government (which I have some meager role in electing) to do these things in a way that is in my interest than I am to trust a corporation to do them.

  • Joey

    What a loaded question! Nobody says “yes” to something like this without a particular confidence. But all those “no”s are being reported as active distrust. What about the vast middle ground?

    The question is meaningless anyway. Do I trust the government to do what? Defend the nation? Enforce tax codes? Hold a fair election? I doubt if anybody thought of those things when answering. Instead, respondents look for things they don’t trust about government: balancing the budget, acting efficiently, serving non-corporate interests.

    What’s shocking about the Pew poll is not the 80% who answered “no”. It’s the 20% who managed to say “yes” to a question as loaded as this.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Generally speaking, yes I do.

  • Laurie Grussing

    There’s never been a better time to trust the Gvoernment! The actions of the current administration & the Democrats in Congress have added millions of Americans to the ranks of the insured, addressed closing the “donut hole” for Medicare recipients, have convinced Russia & others to cut down on their nuclear arms stock piles, have pleased the generals in the current wars with the progress/actions taken on those fronts, have strengthened relationships with old allies and made new ones, have started to turn around the housing and economy messes that started and peaked under the last administration, are addressing the epidemic of obesity, and have actually believed our scientists and thus are taking measures to address global warming among other things. They even had the CBO prove that their much-insulted healthcare reform meaures would actually cut the deficit over time. Compare this first year and a half to George W’s entire two terms and I cannot see why anyone would want to “trust” that party (the Republicans) again, and I really cannot understand why any middle class person would ever think that waiting for the good fortune of the rich in this Country to “trickle down” on we middle class would impact us more directly or positively than the actions of this administration. Finally, I think the Tea Party members should maybe look at who actually got the Country into this economic mess in the first place (and who is trying to inflame their hatred of the current administration now-remember the congressmen waving banners off the balcony of our nation’s Capitol?) and then consider who first started to take actions to get out of this mess (and there are several signes that we are moving out of the actual recession) when considering who they should “trust”.

  • Robin Downs

    Basically, yes. More importantly I trust it a lot more than i do individuals when it comes to looking out for the greatest good for the greatest number

  • J

    Yes and No. I trust this bunch of leaders more than the past 2 administrations, but I believe there is so much going on inside that we never know about, that does not change with administrations, and can never totally be trusted. I do not believe our government is out to get us. I do value intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate leaders more than financial fiends or war and power mongers.

  • Steve D

    Yes i do trust the government for the most part, I would try to make it less bureaucratic. I believe under Clinton the US civilian part of the government was approaching 1.5 million workers. Toward the end of the Bush term I heard a number approaching 2.6 million civilian workers. Wow, I knew we added a bunch when the Federal TSA took over screening at the airports. We have let our government nearly double in size to protect us and a lot of it is to protect air travel. I trust the government to protect us, I do not trust us to know what that means. Right after 911 it was unpatriotic to question the government, but let us not forget we are the “citizens” of that government and we have civic responsibilities and duties to understand what powers “we” allow our governmental institutions to have. We need to quit calling names and/or distorting issues. We need to become informed citizens that demand a government that protects us and our common good and the good of our society too. The Democrats under Clinton gave us a smaller government with a balanced budget.I have yet to see that type of leadership from Obama and the Democrats yet, I for one will try to give them 2 more years to develop a plan. We must start looking down the road and past the next election to resolve our issues

  • justacoolcat

    Of course I trust our government! I love that they never spy on us illegally, follow their own laws, serve the people and not some political party, always tell the truth, are never an obstacle to Freedom of Information requests, rarely redact anything, etc . .. etc . . .

    I totally trust you government!

  • Andy W.

    Yes I trust the government. Since it has been the most significant news story for the past year I’ll discuss Healthcare insurance. I am disappointed that Congress did not include a public option in the recently passed legislation. I believe that the historic legislation will greatly improve healthcare for Americans by creating a more affordable system and providing reforms to areas that needed it. I am however, disappointed that I will eventually be required to purchase a healthcare plan from a private healthcare provider or face a potential fine. I question the ethics involved in such a requirement without an option of purchasing a plan from the federal government. My view from the beginning has been that I trust my health with the government much more than with a company that gets rich gambling on my health. A single payer, nationalized system would be the best but America is not ready for that yet. My trust in the government is based in the fact that no one holds too much power. The checks and balances that were designed by the framers ensure that no one possesses too much power. Whereas in a large corporation, power may be held my just a few individuals who may have questionable morals – Enron, AIG, Goldman Sachs, etc.

  • J. Wagner

    No, I do not trust the government just as I do not trust the majority of “average Americans”. I do not trust the rule of a group of folks who easily manipulated by marketing or campaign donations. I trust individuals who, at their core, value skepticism and question authority. I put my trust in people who pass the test of first rate intelligence, mainly, “…the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

  • Alice Cowley

    Yes, far more than I trust big business! I am very concerned with the recent Supreme Court Ruling allowing private corporations “BIG MONEY” to do the speaking to our politicians instead of “We the People.”

    The tea party people are using emotionalism to rile up the people, just as they have used emotionalism, with issues such as abortion, gay rights and etc. instead of reasonable, realistic discussions.

    I still have faith in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, especially our 1st amendment. “If we can keep them,” as one our founders said.

    Alice Cowley

  • D for D

    I trust the government far more than I trust the wacky people who vote time and time again for right wing politicians because they think they are going to somehow protect them from something they think they need protecting from. Tea party members in particular, they want Bush back who started 2 wars and spied on Americans. Ya, and Obama’s the socialist, sounds like Bush was just like East Germany to me.

  • Pat

    Trust is earned not given.

    In my opinion our politicians have sold us out to special interest groups to get / stay in office.

    The sheeple that blindly follow them are heading for the cliff. I don’t drink purple kool-aid.

  • Chad

    Well, in a democracy, the government is supposed to be representative of the people. A better question might be– do we trust ourselves?

  • Khatti

    The question is too simple. When we‘re talking about the government we are talking about everything from Lincoln freeing the slaves to J. Edgar Hoover listening to wiretaps of celebrities while dressed in an evening gown. It’s a math question as envisioned by an English major.

    A better question would be: “Do I find the government any more dis-trustworthy than the corporation that sold me health insurance or the company that laid me off?” The answer to that would be no. And, in theory anyway, I have more control over the government.

    I have relatives (that I keep in touch with) from one of these Scandinavian police states. A country everyone here seems to be in terror of. Sweden is, apparently, the brothel that is going to lead us astray in the middle of our collective, Horatio Algiers story. My Swedish relatives pay high taxes—but they are never going to go bankrupt because of a catastrophic illness. They pay high taxes—but their school tuition is free. They pay high taxes—but they don’t watch in terror as their elected officials play football with their unemployment benefits. They pay high taxes—but it’s unlikely that their expenditures are any higher than ours are. Much of the money Swedes give to their government pays for things we buy from private business. Many of those businesses have an even higher rate of corruption and dishonesty than our government has. Swedes pay those high taxes, not because they’re worried about the neighbors informing on them, but because the think they’re getting something for their money. They’re most likely right.

    During the health care debate journalist Ezra Klein made a very interesting statement about the congressional Republicans: “It’s hard to believe government will work when you’re not in control of it.” I thought that statement should go on a bumper sticker. We distrust the government because we don’t believe we’re in control of it. Yet, realistically, we had the same amount of control over the government at the height of the tech bubble. The difference is that then we were euphoric, now we’re terrified. Government hasn’t changed, we have. Of course once the economy changes again, we’ll change again.

    Government may not be trustworthy—but it is more stable than I am.

  • M W

    I do. But as others have said very well, it is an exrtremely loaded question.

    With the economy in the toilet, emotions are going to run high on any issue that has to do with financial matters, no matter how small the economic impact might seem. It seems to me that people are just looking for something to vent their frustrations on. When someone’s hot-button topic comes up (like the recent and still current healthcare bill), he/she is just going to jump all over it and let their emotions run their course over the issue. I have tried to have logical discussions with people over the health care bill, and came away with far too few level headed discussions. WIth most it started to turn emotional pretty quickly, and I would just poilitely end the discussion and walk away.

    I think that distrust in government is almost a very ingrained part of our culture. After all, isn’t distrust of government the very reason we are The Unites States of America, and not a colony of the UK?

  • Linda G

    I trust the government a whole lot more than I trust corporations!

  • Jacquelyn Carpino

    Yes I do trust the Government.

    The government is based on American Rights, and the people who have been elected to operate our government are doing so even though there are some within who want to control and are in for the money.

    Once we stop trusting our Government, we through away a value that was given to us as a birthright.


    Only those who do not value these assets that were set before this country by our fore-fathers…….are the spoils of our society.

    We are a unique country based on high standards and intelligent facts!

    What country has a President who represents many nationalities? History is being carved before our eyes.

    A Nation Divided Will Not Stand……..Let’s Stand Together America!

    Jacquelyn Shaw-Carpino

    Proud To Be An American!

  • Michael N

    For those who don’t trust their government all I can say is only you have your selves to blame. On a wider scale, considering the poll data, we are all to blame. This country is so bi-polar it’s mind boggling. What do you expect? Aside from the political division we haven’t seen in this country since the Civil War, we have adopted this insane two-party system which has no basis in the Constitution. It’s like the Soviet Union, you can vote for the Communist or the other Communist. As long as we ignore minority party candidates, and heaven’s forbid think that the rest of Congress is corrupt… except for MY Congressman and continue to re-elect incumbents who have made Capitol Hill a lifelong career, nothing will change.

  • Wally

    Do I trust a government that spends $3 to tell me they won’t give me a $2 tax refund I waived? Do I trust a govt. that spends $40,000 a second, about $35,000 of which is unconstitutional spending? Do I trust a govt. that is taxing current workers to meet obligations on a Social Security “trust fund” it has looted? Do I trust a govt. that pays out an estimated $90 billion a year in fraudulent Medicare payments? Do I trust a govt. that bails out “too big to fail” banks which turn around and make multi-billion record profits? Do I trust a govt. that’s involved in two illegal wars, and still has troops in countries 65 years after WWII ended? Do I trust a govt. that is so dedicated to “equality” that it is putting women and men together in the tight quarters of submarines, and will act surprised when there are more babies than torpedoes? Do I trust a govt. that boasts of “free and open elections” but stacks the deck in favor of the two party (actually one party) system? What d’ya think I am: Stupid? Government is no longer of, for and by the people; but of, for and by the bureaucrats. It is a sinking, stinking, ship of fools, and even rats know to get off such a ship; but we keep paying, at the point of a gun, for more programs to keep it afloat.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Don’t trust the government, huh? Think the solution is less government? Consider Somalia. It must be a Tea Party paradise. The government there doesn’t interfere with hardly anything. The Somali economy must be about to take off and soar, since there’s no regulation to hold it back, and taxes aren’t collected. Wanna buy a bridge?

  • Carol

    You are asking the wrong question. Ask whether we believe in our government, which I surely do. Is it perfect? Of course not. Are there people in gov’t who are not working for the general welfare or the common good, as the preamble to the Constitution provides? Absolutely. But I am confident that this system, imperfect as it is, is still the best. Take a look around in the rest of the world.

  • Matt

    I trust the government as much as I trust voters to be informed about what and who they vote for. Our governmental system is the greatest in the world. It is whatever we collectively choose to make it, but then, so is everything else.

  • jane

    Our System of government was created in a time that they could have never imagined the pace of technilogical availablility. I no longer respect our system…ti doesnot encourage honor or integrity. It encourages corruption and graft….freebies! These flaws could be addressed but instead they legalize Corp Involvement. The constitutionn is my most important document along with the bill of rights but there is no clause for greed and selfish grafting. Limitted terms and no pay for any serving elected official….They have lost sight of humanity and they don’t even care that we know it… is flaunted at us like we are not even aware. Our Media is owned, contributors are unleashed, People wake up the Wolves are in the Meadow!!! I love America but it’s rulers don’t play very nice in the sand box!! It is hard to catch the cow after the barn door is left open…….Oh about the Health Bill…It is just in it’s infancy it will get the kinks out! I think Politicians should face a board of Inquirary every month from their constituents…Put them in the hot seat. I think campaigning should be limitted and there should be required public debates…televised. Find more ways to make them be accountable!!

  • loaliowLica

    so informative, thanks to tell us.