Americans’ Mistrust of Government: Rational and Warranted, But Also Dangerous

William A. Galston
Bill Galston
William A. Galston Ezra K. Zilkha Chair and Senior Fellow - Governance Studies

March 16, 2010

In an interview with Aaron Task of Yahoo! Finance, William Galston discusses the rising distrust Americans have in government.

Aaron Task: In a recent poll conducted by CBS News and the New York Times, only 19 percent of respondents say that they trust the government to do what is right all or most of the time. I’m joined now by William Galston who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former advisor to President Clinton. Mr. Galston you recently wrote an FT op-ed piece about this. And you talked about how dangerous it is for a nation to have this low level of trust in its government. What are you most concerned about?

William Galston: Well, what I’m most concerned about is that during the next decade, Americans are probably going to be called upon to do some difficult things. We are going to have to consume less, we are going to have to save more, and we are going to have to deal with a public sector deficit that is threatening to run out of control and undermine the entire economy. This will be very difficult and if current levels of trust and confidence in government don’t improve, I don’t see how Americans can be persuaded to make sacrifices now for a better future which is one of the core responsibilities of government in such circumstances.

Click here to view the entire interview