Summary: Americans’ support for key institutions of the public collapses, as we trust only the military and police. We don’t need to ask Nostradamus; we can easily see the possible consequences — if we thought about it. Internet discussions might not be the only thing that ends with fascism (Godwin’s Law), or some other form of tyranny.
First, the bad news
Gallup’s annual Confidence in Institutions poll shows that Americans’ support for the institutions of the Republic and our elected officials have been falling for generations (their first poll was 1973) — except for police (the second most trusted) and the military (#1). For details see Gallup warns us to prepare for fascism!
A YouGov poll on September 2-3 confirms these findings, with more detail. Ugly details.
Then comes the worse news
The YouGov poll shows that 29% of Americans can imagine a situation in which they would support the military seizing control of the federal government. Potential support for a coup is strongest among males, among whites, and among Republicans.
A large minority are OK with the military putting their judgment over that of their civilian superiors — if the orders are “misguided”. A smaller minority believe the military should obey orders of their military superiors, even if they believe them unconstitutional. These are innocuous, unless seen along with the previous questions.
“Should active duty members of the U.S. military always follow orders from their civilian superiors, even if they feel that those orders are misguided?”
- Yes: 28%.
- No: 38%.
- Not sure: 35%.
“Should active duty members of the U.S. military always follow orders from their military superiors, even if they feel that those orders are unconstitutional?”
- Yes: 27%.
- No: 39%.
- Not sure: 33%.
These poll numbers occur during a period of slow economic growth and relative peace (compared to the 20th C’s wars). They show a fault line in our society likely to break during a period of extreme political or social stress.
Loss of trust in our institutions has no inevitable results. It can spark citizen action, as we mobilize to elect officials we trust and reform our governing institutions. But loss of trust is just a milestone for a nation of apathetic people. If we don’t rule ourselves, others will rule us — and do so in their interest, not in ours. Subjects have no reason to trust their rulers or institutions.
It’s an old story. Christian Meier’s biography of Caesar describes the unwillingness of Rome’s people to bear the burdens of self-government. Strong men contended for the throne, as seems increasingly likely to happen to America, when we turn to the police or military for succor during bad times.
The people of Rome reacted to the fall of the Republic and rise of the Empire with resignation, such as Stoicism, Epicureanism, Hedonism, and Christianity. What philosophies or religions will we create to numb our sense of responsibility?
The Founders modeled the United States after Rome, and worried that we would follow the same course. Their writings, such as the Federalist Papers, describe our love of liberty as the foundation of the Republic. The next generation or two might prove that we deserve their confidence. Or not.
Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Dr. Franklin “What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic, if you can keep it” replied the Doctor.
— Entry of 18 September 1787 in the Papers of Dr. James McHenry on the Federal Convention of 1887 (signer the Constitution, our 3rd Secretary of War, & namesake of Fort McHenry).
For More Information
Please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and post your comments — because we value your participation. See these pages for more information about the quiet coup, about ways to reform America, and especially these…
- Forecast: Death of the American Constitution.
- Is the American Republic dying, as in the last days of the Roman Republic?
- After generations of waiting, we see that America is the New Rome (but not in a good way).
- Gallup warns us to prepare for fascism!