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Poll: Americans Distrust Their Government


Inside the U.S. Capitol building, shown in the image, is where American law is made by Congress. A recent poll says Americans do not trust their government.

Inside the U.S. Capitol building, shown in the image, is where American law is made by Congress. A recent poll says Americans do not trust their government.


Most Americans don’t have much trust in their government, says a new poll.

Only 19 percent of Americans trust the government “always or most of the time,” the survey by the Pew Research Center finds. Pew says trust levels are among the lowest in surveys of the past 50 years.

The trust level today is a big change from 15 years ago, right after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. At that time, 60 percent of Americans said they trusted the government, Pew said.

Since then, trust in government has taken a major drop after the unpopular Iraq War and a dull economy.

However, most Americans have a long list of things they want their government to do. That includes dealing with threats of terrorism, response to disasters and improving education. Air and water quality were also concerns.

But Americans say they have little faith in government’s ability to respond. Only 20 percent of people polled by Pew say they would describe government programs as well run.

The influence of money on politics may add to the distrust of government, says Pew.

More than three-quarters of those polled say money “has a greater influence on politics and elected officials today than in the past.”

Sixty-four percent say the large sums of money needed to run for president “discourages many good candidates from running.”

The poll confirms divisions between Democrats and Republicans.

Eighty percent of Republicans say they want smaller government.

Only 31 percent of Democrats say they want smaller government.

About one-third of Republicans say government should help people gain health care coverage. More than three-quarters of Democrats say they want government to improve health care.

Eighty-five percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Democrats tell Pew they believe the government should manage immigration.

But Democrats and Republicans in Congress disagree on key immigration issues, such as what to do about Syrian refugees seeking admission to the United States.

Pew says it surveyed 6,000 Americans in the trust survey.

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

VOA News reported this story. Bruce Alpert adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

polln. an activity in which several or many people are asked a question or a series of questions in order to get information about what most people think about something

response - n. reaction

discourage - v. to show disapproval; to make someone feel disheartened

faith n. strong belief or trust in someone or something

manage - v. to direct or supervise

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