Past 10 Years of Politics Leave Americans with Growing Uncertainty About Government

President Obama
President Obama

President Obama spent three days on the West Coast last week, raising money for the Democratic National Committee, among other groups. These sorts of fundraising jaunts are not typically trips during which this president (or any president) says much of anything interesting.

Yet, Obama did just that in a speech in Seattle at a DNC fundraiser. Here’s part of what he said: “Part of people’s concern is just the sense that around the world, the old order isn’t holding, and we’re not quite yet to where we need to be in terms of a new order that’s based on a different set of principles, that’s based on a sense of common humanity, that’s based on economies that work for all people.”

The unease — Obama used the word “anxiety” to describe the feeling earlier in the speech — that the president identifies is, to my mind, one of the most critical elements of understanding the American electorate (and the American people) at this point in our history.

The Cold War is over. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — began a new era in terms of how the United States interacts (and doesn’t) with the world. The economic collapse in the late 2000s — and the subsequent evidence of Wall Street’s blind greed — changed how people view the financial world. The child-abuse scandal that engulfed the Catholic Church in the late 1990s and through much of the early 2000s caused a rethinking of religion and its role in society. Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath forced an examination of what government can and should do.

Revelations about the breadth and depth of the National Security Agency’s spying program have raised doubts about what our government tells us (and doesn’t). And overarching all of it is our increased technological capacity to be constantly in contact with one another — at both superficial and deeply personal levels. (Want to be scared about what this technological boom might mean for us? Read “A Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart.)

All of these new realities have combined to create a deep uncertainty among the public about whom and what they can trust or rely on. And increasingly, the answer is — no one.

Click here to continue reading…

SOURCE: Chris Cillizza
The Washington Post

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