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Has Government Become Too Divided?

Updated: Mar 15

It seems as though all politicians do is throw dirt on one another. How is this impacting American trust in government?


Throughout United States history, impeachments in federal office, especially towards the president, have been sparse. Prior to 2016, only two presidents had ever been impeached. Yet, it seems as though in the six years since Trump's election, threats and inquiries on impeachment have increased. Trump himself was impeached twice and President Biden is currently facing a potential impeachment as well for “high crimes and misdemeanors” in regards to the Mexican border crisis.


Have we devolved into accusatory and “takedown” politics? Throwing criminal accusations left and right is typical of politicians of either party today. Both parties are quick to throw dirt on the other and do anything to make them look as bad as possible.


One of the primary reasons Speaker Kevin McCarthy was removed from office came from his work with Democrats, which certain House Republicans saw as party betrayal. Ultimately, this has two implications. The first is simply that punishment and holding politicians accountable loses efficacy. Nowadays an accusation holds no meaning because something different will make its way into the media the next day and steal attention.


Actual issues are tossed to the wayside in favor of political entertainment involving hurling names, creating spectacles on Twitter and news casts and smearing your opponent. The rules of politics seem to have been thrown out the window in favor of an “us against them” mentality where collaboration with the other is a traitorous act.


Perhaps more importantly, a Pew Research study indicates that public trust in government is continuously decreasing. The moving average of support hit just 16%, the lowest it has ever been.

 

The first of these graphs demonstrates a general decline in government trust since the early 2000s. Even with a slight uptick at the beginning of the pandemic, numbers have still decreased. Examining trust in government by party in the second graph, we see all four sects are on the decline, including Democrats despite wins in the Midterms and a two-term Presidency.


Political infighting only creates worse tensions. It is increasingly difficult to have hope in government and trust in change when there are no constants or stability. We could vote for a politician, but who’s to say they won’t be thrown out of office or that the election itself won’t be challenged for fraud? There seems to be no sign of this trend stopping. If anything, signs point to the U.S. having hit a point of no return, regressing down the slope of polarization until our political norms are changed for good. 


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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