Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion can change the government.” -- Abraham Lincoln.
In 1856, when Lincoln made that statement in a speech, there was no such thing as an ethic of fairness, objectivity or responsibility in the news media.
Many newspapers tended to support a certain political party of belief.
America is now in a similar period in which a multiplicity of news sources has led to “news of affirmation,” news sources that largely support individual views.
So how have Americans responded lately when asked by various polling organizations about the country’s current state?
Here’s a sampling:
We’re proud: A total of 85 percent of American adults were proud to be American. Meanwhile, 78 percent said they would choose to live here over any other country. And 70 percent said the United States was the best nation in the world.
Positive job feelings: Two-thirds of Americans responding to a Gallup poll believed that it was possible to get a good job in the current environment, the highest percentage in 17 years of Gallup polling.
In all, optimism about jobs had increased by 25 percent since President Donald Trump took office.
Negative about government: According to a Pew Research Center poll, most Americans were negative about the federal government -- a total of 74 percent believed that most elected officials put their own interests above the country’s.
--55 percent of the respondents believed ordinary Americans would do a better job of solving problems.
--19 percent trusted the government to do the right thing most of the time.
--29 percent described elected officials as “honest,” compared to 45 percent for business leaders and 69 percent for typical Americans.
It’s also concerning that most Americans have lost faith overall in the people.
Just one-third had faith in the collective wisdom of the people when it comes to political decisions.
As far as confidence in the individual federal agencies, 84 percent had a favorable view of the U.S. Postal Service - but only 39 percent trusted the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Positive about ideals: The Pew Research Center also found that most Americans agreed on our ideals and values -- but a majority saw the nation falling short of fully living up to these ideals and values.
Of course, that’s a complaint that’s likely been echoed throughout American history.
Here was an unsettling trend revealed in the poll: only one-third of Americans said that “people agree on basic facts even if they disagree politically.”
While 84 percent said that it’s important that rights and freedom were respected, 53 percent maintained that didn’t accurately describe what’s happening in the country.
When asked to compare the U.S. political system with the rest of the world, fewer than half of the respondents called it the “best in the world.”