Who do you trust? | VailDaily.com

Who do you trust?

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

It’s hard to inspire confidence these days. A recent poll shows many Americans don’t put much faith in most of our public institutions.

For the past 35 years, Gallup has asked Americans: “How much confidence do you, yourself, have in each of the following American institutions: a great deal or quite a lot?”

At the top of this year’s list is the military, with a combined thumbs-up rating from 71 percent of poll respondents. Small business and the police are next, with 60 and 58 percent, respectively.

That’s it for institutions more than half of Americans believe are worthy of trust.

Newspapers are in the bottom half of the list, something we’re not happy to see, since we believe we do a pretty good job of providing accurate information.

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In fact, the institution of the presidency ” currently held by a very unpopular chief executive ” gets a better rating than newspapers. So do the Supreme Court, banks and public schools.

But below our profession is a somber list including organized labor, the criminal justice system and, at the bottom, Congress.

Congress, in fact, gets the trust of just 12 percent of the American people, the lowest number Gallup has ever recorded. More people trust HMOs and big business more than Congress.

What’s wrong here?

Congress has a long history of unpopularity as a group ” “What’s the opposite of progress?” is a joke almost as old as our republic ” but something is seriously wrong when the federal representatives we have the most power to elect or send home are less popular than the current president.

From failure to enact anything resembling an energy policy to failure to reform the nation’s health care system to failure to address the coming Social Security train wreck in any substantive way, Congress ” whether it’s controlled by Democrats or Republicans ” has spent most of a generation paying far more attention to its own power and privilege than to matters that really matter.

It’s a tribute to this country’s private sector that the country is as strong as it is, even in an economic downturn, but our political class needs work.

There could be a lot of turnover in Congress this year ” as many as 100 seats by some estimates. We hope voters have the wisdom to pick new representatives with the backbone required to tackle the giant job of restoring at least some public trust in our government’s most public branch.

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