Gallup sounds an alarm, again, about our lack of confidence in ourselves

Summary: The sands on the hourglass slowly run out for America’s Second Republic. Anyone who cares to look can see this in a thousand ways, large and small. Today we review one especially obvious indicator: Gallup’s annual Confidence in Institutions Poll and the dark trends it records. It’s time to bring the Republic to DEFCON 2.


And therefore never ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee — and thy nation.
— from Meditation XVII of John Donne’s Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624), slightly tweaked.

One constant during the ten years I’ve written is readers’ impatience with my warnings about the weakening of the Republic. Some say things get better then worse, a cyclical evolution as certain as the tides. Others say that things are always this bad, or this good — believing, like Zeno, that motion is impossible. Both are denials of history and display an unwillingness to listen to the winds howling around us.

Fortunately not all indicators of the Republic’s health are subjective. Gallup has run its Confidence in Institutions polls since 1973. They show two clear trends. First, our decreased confidence in the Republic’s democratic institutions and in the non-governmental institutions that are the ribs of the social fabric. Second, they show increased confidence in the authoritarian institutions of society. One need not be John Locke or Thomas Jefferson to see the likely consequences of this. Stand by for fascism or some other form by which the few use force and guile to rule the many who lack the confidence to stand together.

This one graph shows perhaps better than any the difference between the America-that-once-was and the New America. Confidence in churches down; confidence in the military up.

Gallup Confidence in Military & Church

Jesus wept.
— John 11:35

Here’s the big picture


Note that “small business” and “big business” are not institutions or systems in the same sense as your church, or local school and criminal justice systems.

Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each institution.

Gallup Confidence in Institutions Poll

Now for the bad news: look at the trends

These show a slow-motion collapse in our confidence in the institutions of the Republic.

Average percent of people saying they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in each institution:

Years Military Supreme Court Congress President Police Medical Criminal Justice System
2013 76% 34% 10% 36% 57% 35% 28%
2000 – 2009 74% 43% 22% 43% 59% 39% 26%
1990 – 1999 68% 46% 23% 46% 57% 39% 20%
1980 – 1989 58% 50% 33%
1973 – 1979 56% 46% 39%


Nothing shows our fecklessness, our disinterest in the work of self-government, than graph of confidence in Congress.. Everybody knows the problem. Many laugh. Many bitch. Few work to fix this, although elections are held every two years. Nobody puts a gun to our heads in the polling booth. We are directly responsible for the people sitting in Congress. An inability to assume collective responsibility, to act together makes democratic government impossible.

Gallup Confidence in Congress

Of course these trends did not fall like rain from Heaven. Many are the result of wealth applied intelligently over decades to the remold society. Or rather, erode of confidence in the Republic’s institutions, in ourselves, in order to break our society so that it can be remolded.

The long campaign against our schools shows the effectiveness of their work. It also shows that, despite conservative dogma, local control need not produce either accountability or efficiency.

Gallup Confidence in Schools

A broken observation-orientation-decision-action loops is one one of our greatest ills, as it hampers our ability to see and understand — prerequisites for effective action. Here we see both a cause and effect of that broken OODA loop. The internet makes possible new and superior means of collection, analysis, and dissemination of information. Unfortunately the internet has developed in ways not necessarily to our advantage

Gallup Confidence in newspapers

There were those with great hopes for TV news. It seems to have provided employment for pretty guys and gals, but done little else for America.

Gallup Confidence TV news

See the Gallup reports

  1. Confidence in Institutions data
  2. Americans’ Confidence in Congress Falls to Lowest on Record — data by political party.
  3. Confidence in U.S. Public Schools at New Low — data by political party.
  4. U.S. Confidence in Organized Religion at Low Point — data by Catholics vs Protestants.
  5. Americans’ Confidence in Newspapers Continues to Erode — Data by political ideology.
  6. Americans Confidence in TV News by political party
No Fear
Good or bad advice?

For More Information about the New America

For updates see the Twitter Feed FabiusMaximus01 (see the follow button on the top of the right side menu). Post your sightings of the New America with the hashtag #NewAmerica.

Some posts about New America:

  1. America is the new Rome. Late Republican Rome (not the best of times), 13 October 2011
  2. What will replace the Constitution in Americans’ hearts? Let’s check for Fascism., 29 March 2012
  3. A look at the future of the Republic: we will choose leaders that we trust, 14 May 2012
  4. A look at the future of the Republic: we will choose leaders that we trust, not the ones we need (part 2), 15 May 2012
  5. Undercutting people’s trust in the Republic: another step to destroying the Republic, 27 August 2012
  6. Under the cloak of liberalism America slides to Fascism, 20 October 2012
  7. A third try at describing The First Step to reforming America, 28 May 2013
  8. Compare our New America to the America-that-once-was (a great nation), 12 June 2013
  9. Glimpses of the New America being born now, 18 June 2013
  10. The bad news about reforming America: time is our enemy, 27 June 2013



14 thoughts on “Gallup sounds an alarm, again, about our lack of confidence in ourselves

  1. Not to point out the obvious, but some of us voted for “change you can believe in” and got the exact opposite, change in the wrong direction, so the bootstrapping problem remains: i.e., that we are not presented with real choices in the polling booth.

    1. Benign,

      That is an important, perhaps vital point to start with.

      Presidents have a long long history of doing things very different than they promised. FDR and WW2 (I agree with his actions, but the point remains). Johnson ran against he war-monger Goldwater, while his people were planning Vietnam. Nixon I plying he had a plan to end Vietnam, while he in fact expanded it. Reagan and deficits. Bush Jr and deficits. Obama and so many things.

      But, as I said in my last post, there is no cost to their lies. Apparently, to judge from our behavior, we enjoy big lies. Obama is wonderful as he sugar coats the harsh reality with pretty words.

      If The economy was stronger, how much higher would Obama’s ratings be? Lots. Are there strong signs of dissatisfaction with his many lies! Not that I see.

      So it comes back to us. We are comfortable with the current government, and the evolution of New America. Until that changes, nothing will change.

      Hence my recommendations for change are based on recognition that we are in the very earliest stage of organization — recruiting people to work to build interest in change.

  2. The American peoples’ adulation of our corrupt incompetent military remains baffling. This is an army that rapes one out of every three women soldiers, that can’t build weapons that work, and that can’t win wars — and doesn’t even have any credible plans to do so. Former General Petraeus’ failed Afghanistan counterinsurgency scheme was nothing but a warmed-over version of the COIN policies used in Vietnam…and we saw how well those worked.

    The U.S. military consists of rapists and gang members, led by incompetent careerist cowards. The best and brightest of our officer corps are fleeing the military like rats leaping off the Titanic. Why this should elicit admiration remains utterly puzzling.

    1. More,

      Let’s not exaggerate.

      “This is an army that rapes one out of every three women soldiers”

      False. These high numbers include forms of harrassment that are not remotely rape. Also, preliminary analysis I have seen suggests that these rates in the military are roughly similarly to those of the civilian population (adjusted for their demographics).

      “that can’t build weapons that work”

      I think the ten of thousands of people killed by US weapons disagree. Yes, many do not initially work well, or up to spec. But they are usually improved over time to delivery impressive degrees of lethality.

    2. We prefer to admire the military from afar. Looking close enough to see it’s flaws and defects can be troubling.

    3. Mikyo,

      Good point, as movies, TV, and worshipful news provide most of what we know about the military.

      Also, the increased size of the military means more of us know someone in the service or a Vet — which probably inclines people to think well of the military.

  3. Congressional representatives are like lawyers.
    They’re all spineless blood-suckers: all except the one representing you.

    1. Todd,

      That’s it: our view of Congress. The interesting thing is that this reveals nothing about Congress, but much about American’s refusal to accept responsibility.

  4. Interesting. In one short period, from 2001 until 2003, the military gained 10 points while the churches lost 15. How did that happen?

    1. Mikyo,

      We can only guess as to why. There were another round of sex abuse scandals in the US Catholic Church. And we began the War on {redacted by US Government}, involving invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan — and interventions in many others.

      How this all played out in our minds I don’t understand.

  5. Did the military gain points while it was preparing for war, but then begin to lose points after the fighting actually started?

  6. Confidence in u.s.a. public schools is low because …… they suck?

    And no , they don’t suck because americans are too lazy to organize and fight via responsible citizenship and democratic methods for “real” education reforms. They suck because the corrupt mission of public schools is in harmony with the corrupt nature of corporate state-capitalist culture and the unholy alliance of modernism, conservatism and traditionalism that sustains its conventional values.

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