OUR VIEW: Govt. trust has left out U.S. citizens

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Humorist Will Rogers once said, ”I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

The fact is most people do not think much of government. We have been trained by experience to be skeptical of elected and appointed officials.

Broken campaign promises are expected, scandals are accepted and confusingly written laws often overrule common sense.

It is no wonder that during the past 10 presidential elections – those since 18-year-olds were first able to vote in 1972 – an average of only 53.2 percent of eligible Americans participated in casting ballots.

Why do truly qualified individuals not seek public office? The smart ones do not want to contend with cynicism produced by political machines or the public’s automatic apprehension toward them.

Except for the executive branch, in which only 40 percent of Americans trusted following the Watergate scandal of 1973, general opinion of the government’s three branches in 2012 has hit its lowest level in 40 years.

A new Gallup Poll finds as we approach the Nov. 6 election, most Americans trust the judicial branch most and the legislative least.

From a high of 80 percent during the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton, public trust in the Supreme Court dropped to a current level of 67 percent, but remains 11 points higher than the next least trusted group at the White House.

President Obama’s job approval rating was at 49 percent last week as the Gallup Poll placed trust in the executive branch at 56 percent.

The lowest confidence level went to Congress. Only 34 percent of those polled said they trusted the government’s legislative branch.

Trust in the three branches of government was not lost among political groupings. Poll responders showed 62 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Independents favored the judiciary more than the other two government branches. Democrats stood by the executive branch with a 90 percent confidence level.

Framers of the Constitution designed three branches of government to be separate but equal. However, in time those branches have proven themselves as conflicting.

We find it particularly disturbing that the legislative branch, the one intended to most directly represent average citizens, has become the least trusted.

Following Rogers’ satire we could say of the executive branch that a fool and his money are soon elected. Legislators open their sessions with prayer and end with investigations. As for the judiciary, remember old lawyers never die, they just lose their appeal.

It would be funny if it were not so sad.