The relationship between how Americans view each other and how they view the government is one of the major findings of a new national survey by The Washington Post, Harvard University and the Kaiser Family Foundation. The survey was supplemented by two focus groups, interviews and conversations with Americans around the country, as well as with political scientists and other experts.
In the past 10 years, anger at government and disgust with politicians have increased, causing voters to veer in different directions in 1992 and 1994. At the same time, political leaders, pundits and academics have issued a flurry of prescriptions to restore trust in government: Replace the current crop of politicians, return civility to the political debate in Washington, transfer power to the states or perhaps even balance the federal budget.
But the survey suggests that the sources of distrust that affect attitudes toward government—and therefore the solutions—are not so simple or nicely self-contained....
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