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America is in a crisis of trust and it’s time to take the country back from extremists who are destroying faith in US

WHO can you trust these days?

Presidents and congressional leaders who can’t tell the truth? Law enforcement agencies that pursue their favorite targets and leave real criminals to get away scot-free?


Gerard Baker was a former editor-in-chief at The Wall Street JournalCredit: Getty Images
Gerard Baker's new book American Breakdown: Why We No Longer Trust Our Leaders and Institutions and How We Can Rebuild Confidence is available on September 12


Gerard Baker’s new book American Breakdown: Why We No Longer Trust Our Leaders and Institutions and How We Can Rebuild Confidence is available on September 12Credit: Amazon

The media who make up stuff to suit their political aims? College professors who cancel people they don’t like?

Chief executives who promote woke ideology? Scientists and public health professionals like, well, like Dr. Anthony Fauci?

America is in the grip of a crisis of trust. It threatens the stability and even the survival of American democracy.

Of all the challenges facing the United States today, the most serious is this: After decades of dishonest, incompetent, and ideologically motivated leadership of the country’s key institutions, Americans have simply stopped trusting most of the people who make the most important decisions that drive the country.

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Fifty years ago, polls showed most Americans had a high level of confidence in the big institutions of American culture and society: government, media, education, big business, the law, experts in science, medicine, and technology.

Now, trust in all the pillars that hold up the edifice of American democracy has crumbled.

The Gallup Organization has been measuring the level of trust among the public in the most important American institutions – from the presidency to the Supreme Court to big business, science, and the media – for the last half-century.

Its latest survey this summer found that across these fourteen key institutions, the average proportion of Americans who said they had “a great deal or quite a lot of confidence” in them was 26 percent.

That’s an all-time low. In the 1970s, when Gallup started measuring the number, it was close to 50 percent.

The details are striking: In the 1970s, sixty percent of Americans trusted banks; now, the number is less than 30 percent; back then, more than three-quarters of Americans said they had confidence in the medical system – now, around a third say they trust it.

Churches used to be trusted by more than two-thirds of Americans, but now, fewer than one in three say they trust them.

And on it goes – the media, big business, public schools, the judiciary, the government – have all forfeited the trust of the American people.

What’s gone wrong? How bad can it get, and how do we start to repair the bonds of trust?

These are the questions former Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker answers in his new book, American Breakdown: Why We No Longer Trust Our Leaders and Institutions and How We Can Rebuild Confidence.

While many factors have contributed to the collapse in trust – bad policies by governments that have produced economic stagnation at home and disastrous wars abroad; widening and massive inequality; invasive information technology that’s taken over our lives; a hyper-partisan political and media environment – the most important, he argues, is a widening gulf between the elites who run most of our key institutions and the vast majority of regular Americans.

This new establishment in the media, academia, corporate boardrooms, the permanent bureaucracy, the scientific and medical community, and elsewhere share the same progressive ideals and values – a passion for globalization and disdain for the nation-state, favoring open borders and woke ideas about race, gender, and sexuality; positions that reject most of the values that made America great; and, without trust, a society can’t function.

People need faith in their institutions and each other if a nation is to prosper and grow together. It’s time to take the country back from the extremists who have destroyed so much faith in America.

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