2018 LEAD Conference (1 of 4)

2018 LEAD Conference (1 of 4)


okay good morning everyone, I think we’re
going to get started. so my name is Michael Bailey, I am the interim dean
here at the McCourt School of Public Policy so welcome.
so the McCourt School we have a very broad mission which is to make policy
better to make it more effective more efficient to you know help people leave
more fulfilling lives and so we try to achieve that mission with three pillars
and so one pillar is the research that our faculty does and you’ll hear more
about that today. another pillar is our training students
and so we have programs in public policy we have programs in international
development and data science and leadership executive leadership and so
forth and so that’s trying to give folks the tools to be more effective once
they’re in the policy world. the third pillar of us trying to achieve our
mission is to try to really engage with important questions right and engage be
a hub of dialogue. and so in order to pursue that or advance that goal, six
years ago we created this LEAD Conference series. and so LEAD is an
acronym, which I always have trouble remembering, but it is an acronym for
leadership, evidence, analysis, and debate. and so those are the pillars of engaging
you know deeply engaging with interesting topics. and so the goal is to
bring together really interesting, smart people who are thinking about important
issues, doing things related to important issues, bring them together have a
conversation see what we can learn and see what you know what we can take away from that. and so today we’re having a discussion as you know about trust. and
so I think every one of us has the experience where you wake up in the
morning and you look at your phone or your newspaper or you know whatever
you’re getting your news from you’re like man these folks they’re not are
they really on my team right are they really do they know what they’re doing
do they have my best interests at heart and the thing is that’s like everybody’s
doing that wherever you’re kind of starting from right it’s you know like
I’m doing that for sure but like people who have very different views from me in
this we share at least one part of our morning is to
be you know something in the pit of our stomach feels a little bit uneasy. and so
that issue that feeling that’s one of the things that people who think a lot
about democracy and the functioning of a democracy think a lot about, right, is do
we need this extra element is it just the institutions that we have is it just
the laws that we have the electoral systems that we have or is there
something deeper and broader about how we relate to our fellow citizens and
that encompasses a lot but certainly that encompasses trust. so I’m really
excited to bring together this this really fabulous set of people who’ve
been thinking about these issues and not just thinking about them but like
getting data and you know really digging deep on this right so we can really do
more than just kind of have our initial take on what might be happening with
regard to these issues. so before we get started I do want to just set up a
couple things I want to thank John Ladd and Josh Tucker
wherever Josh is – there he is – for doing the Baker poll and for really
doing a lot of leadership on this. I also want to thank the Knight Foundation and
our Baker Center for Leadership and Governance for all their help in
supporting this and setting us up as well. I also want to thank our keynote
speaker Michael Dimock the President of Pew Research Center for he’ll be doing a
keynote later today. and, then one piece of logistics is that feel free to have
your phone out and ready we’re going to be doing some some live polling and also
if you are in a tweeting mood our tag is @McCourtSchool and our hashtag is #GU
lead2018. so with that, it is my pleasure to introduce my colleague and friend
Jon Ladd who will tell you a little bit more about the Baker Poll and about the
conference today so Jon. all right, thanks Mike. I’m excited to get
going, but very first thing I’d like to get you
involved first thing first thing in the day today. so you have on your tables in
front of you paper that looks like this and if you pull out your phones and
browse to mentee.com, I know you have them, you know you’re pretending you
don’t have your phones, like oh I don’t bring phones to events, but I know you
have your phones. please turn off the audio but please do take them out if you
go to mentee comm and enter there’s a code here it’s on the slip eight one six
seven five eight eight one six seven five eight all right
if you enter eight one six seven five eight
you should go I would like you to answer one question like I put the question up
here all right. the question I like to start off with today is in which country
did its citizens report the highest rate of trust in their national government to
do what’s right right. so we asked everybody we know in in different
countries and this is Pew data this is Pew data for this so I like you
to guess right and we’ll set one minute on them like on the clock here to guess
guess what the answer is for this which of these countries and the options we’ve
given you is France, United States, Japan, and South Africa. okay let’s see here
we’ve got third so we got a minute here we’ve got oh we got more people more
people weighing in want people weighing in it’s not it’s not ah but we focus
mostly on the United States but it’s not obvious what the answer is or would be
here so we can we put let’s see what people can we see what people are saying
oh okay oh wow this is a great this is a great audience I am impressed with the
audience with the audience here today because that answer is right so Japan
this is what we’re hoping for I wasn’t hoping they’d fool you
I was hoping to get it right so I was hoping you got it right so you are
correct we’ve we’ve we’ve gathered the right X I already know we’ve gathered
the right experts here today first question you’re on it
all right. so, in Japan 57% trust the national government to do what’s right. recent poll said and followed by the
United States, South Africa, and France. all right, so I want to do I want to do
one more this focused just on the United States. so it’s gonna be still on your
phone I’m gonna be still on your phone and this is domestically focused. and the
question is which group of leaders retain the highest level of confidence
among Americans to act in the best interest of the public. so it’s business leaders, K
through 12 principals and superintendents, religious leaders, and or scientists. I ask you things to think about it I think if you
can if you can predict what this 2016 poll data found. there’s obviously just a
small sample of the things that if so many people ask questions about this
we’ve been studying this so much but we still it’s so important and there’s
still so much to learn. this is also this is also pure data.
all right let’s put up the let’s put up the results here so this is people we
got this is ours okay yeah so religious leaders as we predicted that’s not
not bad so not as good as the first question I got it I got honestly gotta
say now this gives the first question but still pretty good. so the right
answer well then what the American public actually gives of the most
competent is scientists the actual answer is 21% of people have a
great deal of confidence in scientists, 13% in social leaders, 13% in religious
leaders, and 3% have a great deal of confidence if we percent of a great deal
of confidence in business leaders. all right all right last one this is not a
quiz anymore so you can relax you know the first one you knocked it out of the
park the second pretty good but this is there’s no right
answer to this but well I there’s one I I hope weak but there’s no we’re not
guessing the American public anymore this is your opinion this is your
opinion so I just want to get in this room how satisfied are you with how
democracy is working the United States. all right,
just people in this room I realize this is what this is what pollsters would
call not a representative sample. I guess with certain researchers would
call it opt in sample these days is definitely this is definitely here an
opt-in sample. but let’s see your opinion and I doing a poll obligated to say to
your answer will be anonymous your data will be protected you will not be
identified okay we’re coming up here all right great
so in this room in this room we’re doing okay I think I feel that so so 13% of
you are very satisfied 43% somewhat satisfied 30% someone… oh by the
right I’m around the other way. oh it’s not as good as I thought. I got I’m very
disappointed. all right even here it’s not as good as I am concerned I am
already concerned all right very satisfied 5% somewhat satisfied 30% 43%
somewhat dissatisfied. so a substantial majority 66 percent is somewhat dissatisfied very dissatisfied
even in this this room now of experts on this topic this opt-in this opt-in
sample and you know maybe that’s concerning because you know expertise
doesn’t lead you to you know feel better about the American system and that is
itself you know substantially worrisome. okay, well now I want to bring you to the
purpose of today because here at Georgetown we brought you here today for
an incredibly important conversation on an incredibly important and timely topic
because America today as I think you know in one way or another is facing a
crisis an a type of crisis that it’s never exactly faced before right.
daily as Mike as Mike referred to right and you know America throughout its
history has been a clash of ideas people always been fighting over what America
is about right and there’s a lot of history and a lot of political science
research about that, right. but one thing we have throughout American history
agreed on is kind of a a reverence for the idea of the Constitution as a system
right in the American system is a lot of literature about the 1800s America how
people had this we had this somewhat strange reverence for the system like
the Constitution itself right and for specific propositions right so we
throughout American history have had this notion that we always claim we
always claim to ourselves that the idea we value the most is, to quote Abraham
Lincoln, the proposition that all people are created equal right has been
weakened there’s a value in claiming that even though we often fail to live
up to that so that’s quite different from rival notions right that the nation
is about blood and soil right or the nation is about loyalty to a particular
person or a particular individual or a particular regime, right. you may notice
that in when there’s the President and federal officials take a loyalty oath to
the Constitution to a system right to a set of laws and principles right not to
a particular ethnicity not to a particular location but to a system
right. this idea has been helpful and it’s helped although it certainly has not
guaranteed us to incorporate new people who come here and incorporate people
whose ancestors have always lived here but have certainly not always been
incorporated the idea that we think about this as a basic principle that we
always claim to believe in the problem is
that this idea is under threat right now and there are a lot of people who at
this time when the American system as a system needs defending who aren’t sure
it’s worth defending and often for legitimate reasons right.
different people have reasons to be dissatisfied with the American system
and American institutions. certainly racial minority groups have legitimate
reasons to think that American institutions have often been against them not
just failed them but hostile to them. white Americans have legitimate and
illegitimate grievances with American institutions probably at the moment
right. among the legitimate grievances is probably that the American economic
system over the last forty years hasn’t grown incomes for most people right
which has affected white Americans and communities of color as well right. so
that says that’s a legitimate reason to feel that the American system has not
been delivering. and white Americans probably maybe also have illegitimate
grievances in the sense that the demographic breakdown of the United
States is changing and becoming less white over time and also just perhaps
just the existence of Barack Obama as a president
as a president to serve two terms and by many objective measures reasonably
successful president right those would be possibly illegitimate grievances but
that also may undermine support for the system itself. so you know, Lord knows the
American system has often failed some or all of its people. Lord knows people have reasons to be upset and the American system is often
hard to defend sometimes. but it needs defenders right now it needs defenders
right now. I don’t know if it’s worthy of defenders but it needs defenders
all right. so a year and a half ago the Knight Foundation approached Josh Tucker
and I, and John Stassi from the Knight Foundation is here today representing
them today, approached Josh Tucker and I and wanted to start a new initiative
which is made up of assessing the quality of American democracy figuring
out the best ways to do that gather new data to measure the health of American
democracy share that data with other philanthropists with other researchers
and that is why you’re here today, as part of that initiative. later after
Josh Tucker and I start work with the Knight Foundation the Baker Center for
Leadership and Governance joined that partnership to contribute to this
ongoing effort to understand American democracy to see if there are ways we
can give people legitimate reasons to have faith on and while improving the
American system. so what is that initiative consist of right. well the
biggest thing it consists of is here in the McCourt school as part of the Baker
Center for Leadership and Governance we’re conducting the Baker poll
sponsored by the Knight Foundation. this Baker poll is going to be measuring both
confidence and institutions and measures of faith in democracy and how they
interact with each other it’s also going to have a very large sample size and
particularly sample not just not just the general population but particularly
make sure we over sample particularly racial communities African Americans,
Latino communities, and Asian and Asian Americans as well it’s also gonna have a
substantial open-ended component right we’ve been asking a lot of trust
institution questions for a long time that are incredibly useful that’s how we
oh this is an important topic but sometimes these questions can be vague
yeah and we want to know how people think about this in their own terms so
what this is gonna be how this is gonna be different is a little different from
existing surveys it’s gonna substantial open any component a large sample size
and it’s going to ask comp institutions and faith in democracy
questions at once. we also want to at the same time we’re not just conducting
another poll but we want to have a series of initiatives like this that
brings people together this is the beginning this is a convening to help
pool knowledge and make all our work in this area better and that’s why we
brought you here today to talk about this at the beginning of this initiative
and also we want to share the data we find just as other amazing researchers
in this area like Pew and others share their data on their website we want to
have build a web presence that we can do we’re so we can share the data and all
get better at understanding these issues. so thank you for being here today.
this issue we’re trying to address today is not really a partisan issue right.
support for democracy United States support for the American system or in
improving the American system right is not per se about who you which party you
voted for it’s not about what the top marginal tax rate should be exact it’s
not about your opinion about abortion it’s not about how many troops Americans should have in Afghanistan exactly it’s about whether the character and nature of
American institutions can be preserved and improved in a way that makes them
continue to be worth preserving. so that’s why you’re here today. this is a
big job and we want to bring a lot of people together because we’re all in
in this together and we need your help I certainly can’t do it I certainly can’t
do it but hopefully together we can do it and we really can’t fail really can’t
fail. so thank you for being here so with that I want to uh sure up the first the
first panel of the day which it’s going to talk about causes of trust in
institutions the United States help us better understands the loss of trust
instrumental. the goal is to help us better understand the loss of trust
institutions. I’d like to usher up the up the
panelists I’d like to introduce to be to be moderating this first panel will be
my research partner Josh Tucker and I’ll just introduced Josh and then he’ll
introduce the panelists. Josh is a professor of politics at New York
University he’s also director of the Jordan Center for Advanced Study of
Russia and co-director of NYU’s social media and political participation lab
he’s also a co-author of the Monkey Cage blog, which is the award-winning
political science blog at the Washington Post and he’s also the author of
Communism Shadow Historical Legacies and Contemporary Political Attitudes which
investigated support for democracy among people who grew up under communism and
now live in post communism and try to understand exactly how
they’re at it what their attitudes toward democracy are and how these
people have gone through change sorted out whether they really believed in
democratic systems or preferred non democratic systems. so his kind of
historical historical and comparative expertise is really essential for our
conversations today. so with that I’d like to introduce an usher Josh
and our other initial panelists up to the stage please. thank you. thanks John
thanks for the very kind introduction thanks to all of you for joining us here
today and I also as well thanks to Mike Bailey for hosting this event here I
also want to extend my thanks to John Satsuki and the Knight Foundation for
their support and Victoria Canavar and the Baker Center for their support for
the research that’s going on here it’s absolutely instrumental and it’s
been an incredible experience sort of working with different organizations
that are interested in in pushing this agenda forward so thank you all very
much and thanks everyone for being here so it’s my great pleasure to introduce
the panelists I’ll stand up here and introduce them and then we’re gonna sit
down and have a conversation so we are very very fortunate to be welcomed here
by Shayla Nunally who’s an Associate Professor at with a joint appointment in
political science in Africana Studies Institute at the University of
Connecticut she specializes in public opinion and political behavior and race
and politics African American public opinion her current research focuses on
the transmission of memory across generations and communities of black
Americans and what this transmission means for cultural trauma group
remembrance group politics and institution building. to her left is
Elizabeth Theiss-Morse who is the Willa Cather professor of political science
and Associate Dean for faculty in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences of the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln her research focuses on public opinion
concerning various aspects of democracy including support for civil liberties
congress democratic process and the American people as a national group
she’s the author of several award-winning books including Congress
as Public Enemy and Stealth Democracy. and then to her left we’re
joined by Marc Hetherington professor at Vanderbilt University he studies the
American electorate with a particular focus on the polarization of public
opinion he’s the author of three scholarly books the most recent of which
Why Washington Won’t Work won the Alexander George Award for the
International Society political psychology as the best book in the field
of political psychology published in 2015. I want to echo John’s remarks we
are extremely grateful for all of the panelists for coming and joining us here
today one of the goals of this project to be as open and collaborative as
possible as we said we’re gonna make the data available to all these wonderful
scholars who are here but even more importantly it’s in credit I’m so
looking forward to today and so looking forward to this panel in particular so
that I can expand my knowledge of what all these people have been working in
this area have learned from this so it’s a great pleasure to be joined by these
people on the stage today and I’m gonna start off with the question I want to
start as a first question and maybe we’ll go in order across the will go in
order across the panel so Shayla if you want to start by asking the
panelists what do you think is the most important cause of the decline of
institutions, the decline of trusted institutions confidence and institutions
that we’ve seen in the United States and what I really want to kind of get at
here is first of all like what do you think is is the main driver that’s going
on here but secondly I want to probe you to push you to think a little bit about
whether this is a result of this particular moment that we find ourselves
in American history which I think would be the indication that one would get
from most of our interactions with the mass media most of our daily
interactions with this question or is this a function of much longer-term
trends so sort of what’s the most important question that you think what
is the most important driver you know what brought us here today to be talking
about decline in trusted institutions and to what extent is that a longer-term
trend or is what extent is that a particular function of the moment we
find ourselves in today so first I think it’s important to just
consider the concept of trust right so when we speak of trust we’re thinking of
people thinking about the outcomes that might best benefit them but also what
that means for determining risks so people may be uncertain about how
outcomes may affect them but importantly if I were to think about this as far as
a long-term analysis and maybe within hmm let’s say 150 year period quite
honestly quite honestly I think that we are witnessing come to fore and being
more honest about the extent to which people’s political interests are
connected to how they see grew receive benefits or not in society and
and that also leads me then to suggest that I think we need to consider more
closely the extent to quite honestly race and politics is a part of American
politics and has very much so been integrated in the American political
party system since the Civil War and if we think about that and what that means
for even the integration for example one of the long-standing groups in American
politics as a racial and ethnic minority group African Americans in particular
this is where we see that even some of the measures that we have used in order
to interrogate an investigate trust may not have considered the extent to which
race and politics really are at the core of how people may either implicitly or
explicitly consider their political interest so I really do believe that if
we were to consider that as far as the measures that we develop as well as
think about for example confidence and institutions and what that means for how
people especially African Americans and other racial and ethnic minority groups
feel as if their interests are being heard represented that that gives us one
lens but then also as we are moving into this current climate we have seen
probably since 2008 and especially with a decline in the economy more
conversations that involve how lower-income whites also perceive that
their stake in the political economy might be questionable and that that
might also be juxtaposed with respect to the conditions of racial and ethnic
minorities who as a part of the political party system interestingly
have been incorporated in ways by political elites that I think suggest
that there is a zero-sum game among those groups and so with that said I
think this points us to a more honest conversation about the extent to which
race does influence our politics just appropriate to push a little more on
that that zero-sum conception is it would it be legitimate to say that the
zero-sum consumption is been enhanced by the moment that we’re in right now or
would you say as well the zero-sum conception this idea that that’s
actually also something that’s been a longer trend longer trend coming or is
that something that you can sort of the 2016 campaign for example exacerbated I
think it’s a longer trend but I think the expressions of that that zero-sum
feeling on behalf of whites has become manifest and more openly in this
particular political climate other than what we had seen prior to the 1960s so
what that means to for example have what Mendelberg refers to as implicit racial
appeals versus explicit racial appeals I think we’re back to a moment where
explicitly expressing one’s views in a way that harkens specific racial and
ethnic minority groups in particular are more evident okay thank you Elizabeth
so answering the question of the main cause of the decline in trust is really
hard you know I think there’s a lot that’s going on obviously actual real
political events have a big impact scandals crises you know the economic
conditions of a country have a huge impact but I want to focus in on what I
think is a primary cause and that is that I actually think democracy
increases distrust in government and the reason for that is that the processes of
democracy are pretty messy and inefficient
there’s research that shows that the more transparent governments are the
less trust people have in those governments when people see what’s
happening and they don’t like seeing what they see what what’s going on I
think their their trust declines precipitously so in a sense the more
democratic we see our governments become and they have become so much more
democratic and actually so much less corrupt in the in Western democracies
Trust has declined and this is not just in the United States it’s in Europe as
well so I don’t think when we talk about whether this is a here-and-now thing is
this just something specific to our time I don’t think it is I don’t think it’s
specific to the US I think it is a broader manifestation of
of how we do our politics I also think there’s a there’s been a debate about
whether its policy that’s really driving this decline in trust or whether it’s
processes and John Hibbing and I have come down on the side of processes but I
do think that if there’s if if trust to say they were saying if Trust is about
risk and and taking a risk if we’re willing to take a risk to trust
something like our government we also have to take into account predictability
and so is that government predictable over time and then the third thing I
think is fairness and neutrality and they’re in in how Authority is imposed
on us and if we look at all of those things I think that concern about
processes really play a major role because it’s going to affect everything
if we can’t trust our government if we aren’t willing to take that risk of
trusting our government to do what’s right
we will question everything and we see that more and more and more and the
media make us think about that more and more and more about how we really can’t
can’t take that risk and so I think all of that plays a role in what’s going on
so this question about transparency leading to decline and Trust is
fascinating and one of the original promises of the e-government movement
was that we would get much more transparency what’s going on people
would understand what was going on with their governments and there’d be a
closer link between politicians and the citizenry so in a sense it would I mean
is it correct to infer from the work that you’ve been doing that there’s a
sort of fundamental tension between the sort of new digital technologies I mean
can we lay part of the blame for the decline in trust in institutions at this
sort of digital era in which we find ourselves today well I think that’s true
in a lot of ways so one thing is that with transparency when people want more
information about their government and then they can’t get it
they wonder what’s what why are they hiding things you know what’s going on
why are they hiding hiding what’s going on but I think with that that the
whole idea about you government a democracy the it’s also a matter of the
Media having information and social medias while having information
available to us at all times and people who are more knowledgeable about
government are not more trusting right so I think there’s a the whole idea of
I’m for openness and transparency so I’m not saying I’m against it but I do think
it has there is that tension that it decreases our trust in government. ok
thank you very much Mark. well I think a couple of distinctions are probably
important to make here you know I’m one of them is you know what’s the
government are we talking about institutions more broadly democracy and
so forth and you know the fact of the matter is you know I’ve been studying
this for a couple of decades now and there’s really not until very recently
been a whole lot of concern about the degree to which trust in democracy the
the governing Arrangements that we have today are is particularly low but the
trust and the people who are in charge of the government at any given time has
plummeted so I think this is something that’s important to keep in mind and
something I hope to come back to during the course of things because as it
relates to the first thing you know support for the institutions of
democracy it’s gonna turn out I think you know somewhat counter-intuitively
that the people who have high levels of trust in government might be the folks
who are willing to go along with the biggest transformations you know
challenges to governing arrangements that we have you know bypassing Congress
not wearing so much best civil liberties and so forth but let me leave that aside
for a minute as it relates to is this a new moment in time this notion of low
levels of trust in the people running the government you know I think it’s
kind of interesting for us maybe to step back as political scientists and think
about when we started to collect data you know we started to collect data on
the American public right after the Second World War which is an incredibly
anomalous time when trust levels were extraordinarily high in all sorts of
different institutions so again I don’t mean to minimize the idea that low
levels of trust in government are not important in fact I’ve you know
spent most of my career suggesting that in fact it is but it’s not anomalous in
fact probably the time that was anomalous was the time that we started
to collect data so we look back on the 50s and 60s and compare this moment in
time with that and think: God what’s happened to us but instead what would be
an interesting thing is to look back on you know say the founding and look at
the institutions that the founders came up with which suggest a high level of
distrust in government that’s why they created institutions the way that they
did because they weren’t necessarily trustworthy in that sense
let me just add though you know one thing to the causes and the reason that
I think we’re in a situation that’s going to be difficult to escape as
relates to trust in the in the institutions the people running the
institutions at least which again I think creates a problem for
institutional legitimacy you know down the road is polarization one of the
things that didn’t use to have any influence or at least a very small
influence on the amount of trust that people expressed was who was in
government I mean you know Democrats trusted the government a little bit when
the Democrats are in a little bit more when the Democrats were in the
Republicans trusted a little bit more when the Republicans were in but that is
fundamentally different now it’s not uncommon over the last two presidential
administrations to find fewer than 10 sometimes here than 5% of out party
partisans expressing any trust in the government at all in fact in 2010 when
Tom Rudolph and I did a survey on this over 50% of Republicans said they never
trusted the government in Washington to do what’s right when Barack Obama was
president never I mean they could have said some of the time but never my mom
told me never to say never this is a remarkable turn of events so you know
and and and I feel certain although the data aren’t available I have a feeling
Democrats for expressing much the same about Republicans running the government
right now so we find ourselves in a polarised time where the affect is so
strong about the other side that you know you don’t trust on the other side
to do anything and and you know frankly maybe with good reason right now and
this is going to be a very difficult pattern to escape. so um just to follow
up on the point you mentioned about like headline numbers of trust in democracy
there has been I would like to point the audience because this is a bunch of
people who are very interested in this question there’s this new study that was
just released by the voter study group there was an op-ed page and the op-ed
piece in The New York Times a couple days ago or last week lead drop men
Larry Diamond pushing back on this idea that the headline numbers of support for
democracy and particularly among Millennials there has been an argument
put out there that Millennials have declining support in democracy and the
voter study group has actually found completely different findings in this
regard so it’s it’s it’s a study worthwhile with it’s worth looking at
the op-ed is there you can take a look at this but I think it’s an it points to
the importance of not getting getting idea you know getting ideas in our head
because we hear things once and then thinking that that’s the case but
constantly being willing to sort of update our understanding on this
particular case. Mark I did want to just push back on one question which when we
think about this concept of trust because I was intrigued by your
discussion about the difference between trust and institutions per se versus
trust in the individuals running those institutions so one of the things that
we’re trying to do with this study is the whole reason we’re collecting all
these open-ended questions is we want to know when people say do you have trust
in Congress what it is that people are thinking about when they do that so
hopefully we’re gonna be able to bring some data to the floor or to inform us
and give us a sense of understanding at least in this particular moment what
people are thinking about when they answer these trust questions but as
someone who’s been studying this for a long time obviously we can’t go back and
ask these questions in the past but how do you think about when you ask a
question like trust in Congress are you thinking that that’s going to give you
an institutional answer or are you thinking that that’s going to give you
an answer about the individuals who are running Congress and maybe other you
know other questions of this ilk or do you really is this when we ask about
like confidence in the Republican Party are we getting or confidence in
political parties do you think we’re getting at trust in the individuals
running the Republican Party right now or the institution of
parties just to think about these questions. hey Josh I just think that’s
just the most important question for us to get our arms around you know at this
point because you know the classic trust in government question how much do you
trust the government in Washington to do what’s right well the government
Washington is pretty damn big you know what part of it are we talking about
given the circumstances are we talking about Congress are we talking about the
courts are we talking about the president are we talking about the
military are we talking about you know some executive branch agency and the
work that Tom and I have done we ask people these questions about specific
institutions within Congress within the government so like Health and Human
Services the Department of Defense even the EPA they all get higher marks than
the government in Washington you know which you know suggests to me that
government in Washington is just you know sort of some term that you know
people don’t actually like or on the other side they have no idea that what
Health and Human Services does again it does so health I like health I’m human
and services are good you know so you know with that in mind we just don’t
know you know exactly what people you know have a sense of so and just to push
your point even a little bit farther is you know we have this absence of trust
in government but we see like you know something a specific institution of
government like the FBI or the Department of Justice being attacked
right now and what we need to I think you know work really hard to do is
develop these sort of baseline understandings of what people think of
that specific institution so we can see what impact you know this negative
rhetoric about it has and and and so forth so I believe that what you’ve
identified Josh is the very most important thing that we have to do going
forward well so actually we please note we were trying to you know go through
you know a penultimate check on the survey institution and they and the
instrument for the survey and the FBI is one of the institutions that made the
cut and it’s going to make them a the cut for getting these open-ended answers
precisely because we think at this particular moment and so this question
too about the government versus the parts of the government there are real
echoes here of like when you ask people I remember looking at public opinion
about Obama care and you would have people who had very
negative opinions of Obamacare but then if you ask them about every single
component of Obamacare except for the individual mandate that every single
component of Obamacare had strong support. so it’s that this is a big I
think this is a bigger question and maybe a kind of second generation
question on public opinion is this unpacking of when people are just
cheerleading on I mean and I think going back to your point on effective
polarization this is crucially important. all right I want to come back now and
give each of the panelists another chance to to to now that having sort of
identified what we think of these sort of big drivers to follow up on the
extent to which we think this varies across subsections of the population. so
Shayla you started talking about African Americans in particular, but when
we think about some of these drivers and Trust like what are the most so building
off of I guess the answer you gave to the first question but building off of
this how do we think these questions are bearing across subsections of the
population how do we think these are being interpreted or you know do we want
to you know because it’s very easy to fall into a monolithic a conversation
about monolithic decline is in trust but what are the key differentiations across
relevant subsections of the population that we need to be thinking about the
ways in which this is playing out differently. thinking about polarization
is important and I say that because in thinking about the party system I think
we’re seeing increasingly that groups are falling within the parties along
racial lines. so yes increasingly more whites are
becoming a Republican and we’ve seen a history of racial and ethnic minority
groups supporting the Democratic Party. but with that said, that points to the
need for disaggregation making sure that when we speak of Republicans or we speak
of Democrats supporting certain aspects of trust or even political institutions
political actors, that we need to make sure that we’re disaggregating at a
level that we account for intersectional analysis. whether it be for example Latinix, Latinas, Black women, for example to understand what are the nuances within
these groupings of partisans. but also we find that for example in more recent
public opinion data and even we’ll hear from is far
the Pew Research Center, that for example whites are expressing more anger in
federal government and that attitudes about federal government actually for
racial and ethnic minority groups are more positive than they are for let’s
say state and local government which we find for white. so unpacking what that
means for how different groups perceive government is important especially as
far as for example the political actors because immediately when you said Obama
care I thought my goodness if you were to ask a survey asking people about
Obamacare and explicitly stating Obama care we find that there’s a
racialization of Obamacare and that usage of that term. it becomes associated
with the President and him having been the first black President so what that
means for even how we ask our questions becomes pertinent for different
subgroups of the population. and even what that means for perhaps even as
Tesla refers to spillover effects and other public policy areas we have to be
mindful for how groups might react to our measures. right the the distinction
between so this is very interesting the distinction between African Americans
and other minority groups having more support for federal government less for
state and local how much do you think that was enough that was a product of
the moment of having Barack Obama as president versus a more general
long-lasting trend? do we even know the answer to that question has it has this
been polled – I mean maybe Mike’ll talk about this later today but is this still
continuing with Donald Trump as president. no, that I’m not quite sure, but
I can say that even in my own work for example I find that African Americans
are more trusting of federal government than state government and I can imagine
that that is possible because of the relationship that especially state
governments and the South had with African Americans and being a part of
their discrimination experiences. so again being sensitive to even those
political histories becomes important in our analyses as far as how we then test
certain measures. this is one of the things we’re going to hope to be able to
sort out with the survey that we’re collecting here with the oversampling of
or the large samples of ethnic minorities within the within the US. and
and asking questions about support for state
local government in particular so hopefully we’ll be able to tease this
out. it might I also say that even size of government differences that we find
that Latinos and Blacks are more supportive of a larger size, hence a
federal government, that has more services offering an equal than we do
find them on white. so those kind of nuances even have implications for yet
again partisanship and thinking about partisan sorting. so maybe with the
open-ended data that will be something we can look for is to see whether when
certain groups are talking about government whether they’re talking more
about services or less about services which would be interesting to see if
that’s in there. Elizabeth – so I think partisan differences are the biggest I
mean obviously so that’s the most obvious subgroupings that have
differences in trust. I’ve been intrigued by education and education
level one would think that given how democracy is run that we would see
highly educated people be more supportive of our democratic processes
and institutions just because you know heck they should know more about it and
how the whole system is supposed to work and and and have I would say more
realistic expectations about how government works. but but we haven’t
really found much of a difference there in some countries there is a difference
we haven’t found much in the US. and that’s a bit surprising to me. I would
think that that would make a bigger difference. what I do think as a
subgrouping that that I think does matter a lot is that we know that with
increased income inequality we see less trust in government, we see you know a
lot of a lot more negative views about what’s going on in the political world.
and so I think within the United States where we have increased income
inequality over time, there’s just more disgruntlement about how things are
working you know the rich are rich and the poor
are poor and and the middle class is shrinking and I haven’t looked at the
data itself but I would not be surprised at all to see that that people who are
who feel that they are really on the short end of the stick, are just going to be unhappy about lots of things including
government and how its run it’s not helping them, right? it’s not that they
it’s just not there. I also am intrigued by a research that shows that people who
have direct experiences with specific parts of the government — they love that
part of the government but that doesn’t have any impact whatsoever on their
overall trust in government. so there’s a there’s a disconnect between those
direct experiences that a person has with any number of government agencies
and their own feelings of trust. so it’s not it’s anyway. so I don’t see that as
as kind of explaining a subgroup that’s that’s having an impact on trust. Mark –
well one of the things that I think is you know of course the the biggest game
in town as Elizabeth made reference to is that partisan differences. I mean
they’re incredibly deep and incredibly wide and they have been you know for a
while now, since at least the end of the Bush years. the thing that I think is so
interesting as it relates to the present moment in time is you know the the study
that you made reference to the Diamond Study, Josh, also showed that at least
this relates to the you know the rules of the game as it relates to politics as
it relates to government institutions Republicans are on a couple of those
things expressing less enthusiasm about say the institution of Congress and
whether a strong leader ought to be able to bypass you know institutions like
that and if you know one of my graduate students asked this battery of questions
last year you know things that for Americans you think this is crazy you
know that people would be okay with institutions other than democracy. they’d
be okay with military rule that they’d be okay with bypassing Congress and the
courts for certain things fact is the percentage of Republicans who are
willing to do that now has been creeping up over the course of the first year of
the Trump administration and the odd thing about that is I bet you if you ask
those same people the trust in government questions they would express
a lot of trust in government because the government is Donald Trump right now and
he’s the type of leader who would be interested in maybe
bypassing you know some of those types of things. and what I think this points
to is the really important need to disaggregate all of these different
pieces you know are we talking about the rules of the game are we talking about
the institutions are we talking about the president and and so forth. because
there it seems to me leading to very different answers. and ones that are
you know potentially problematic. and you know I you know I grew up actually you
know in a political family you know here in Washington you know my father was
press secretary for a Republican senator Hugh Scott and I’m terrified you know by
this moment in time I mean I am mister institution and you know my
premise for panic about such things that’s pretty low I’ve been studying
trust in government for a long time. but we’re at a watershed moment
about the actual business of politics and it’s
not that in its and I think part of it is that this trust in government has
been low and as David Easton said a long time ago if over the long haul you have
low levels of trust its corrosive over a period of years. and I think that maybe
we are running into that the Trump candidacy itself is a indication of
exactly that. so I want to push you on this thing the the the issue the
question you just said here about or the answer you gave where you said
your students were shocked how could these attitudes be
here in America. yeah and so I would got to well if somebody studies comparative
politics like one of the things that has one of the sort of insights or where the
ways that I thought about what was going on in the country last year was that
when we look across European democracies, like European democracies with really
sort of progressive social democratic systems, you’re Sweden’s, you’re Finland’s,
right, the Denmark’s, parts the world these parts of the world you have
routinely seen especially in the aftermath of the Great Recession but
even going back in time that these parties pushing these kind of far-right
platforms can get the support of 5%, 10% in certain circumstances, 15-20
percent of the vote. and I’ve often thought and I thought last year when a
lot of people were expressing sort of shock that people in the United States
were responding to some of the types of positions, that the US two-party
system has essentially masked this, right. that in a healthy functioning democracy
it’s not unusual to have 10, 15, 20 percent of the population who’s willing
to entertain these kind of anti-democratic thoughts and not only
entertain them but vote for candidates that will push these kind of policy
platforms. but that in the United States we barely see this because the two-party
system normally makes it so that you don’t end up getting that candidate in
your Parliament making speeches having representation. so on this question, you
know, and occasionally we get glimpses of it right David Duke gets you know
becomes a finalist for a Senate seat in Louisiana, but then we forget about it.
and it’s the party system was masking the fact that these kind of attitudes
are not entirely surprising to be present to go back anything. so what I
really want to just get a sense of here is you’re and there’s there’s two
arguments that run is the long term sort of corrosiveness that yes it may be it’s
been there all along, but there’s a cumulative effect of it having been
there for a long time. the other is that it’s actually increasing
you know substantially right now so just to put just to throw that back in your
court a little bit more. where do you your concern right now as someone who
spent a long time of your career studying this that you’re concerned in
this moment is it the long-term corrosiveness or is it that you think
there’s an increasing levels here? Josh, I would like to take this opportunity to
plug my new book. (laughter) we did not plan this ahead of time, but go ahead. I appreciate
it though. so my co-author Jonathan Weiler have a new book that we’ll be at
in the fall called: Prius or Pick-up: Four Questions That Explain America’s Great
Divide. and basically the idea that an we show the end of this notion this
worldview you know that divides the parties these days.and you know the four
questions are these questions about parenting you know raising children, you
know what characteristics you want your kids to have. they are central to
understanding people’s willingness to go along with these types of parties. and we
show that the relationship that the the same types of people who brought us
Donald Trump are the same types of people who are voting for the AFD in
Germany. the same types of people who vote for National Front in France.
the same group of people who voted for Brexit in Britain. it’s all the same you know type of a thing.
is it greater, I don’t think so. I think you know Larry Bartels has this terrific
piece on this right-wing populism in Europe and I think it fits here. the fact
of the matter is levels of unhappiness, as it relates to race, as it relates to
ethnicity, immigration, they’re incredibly high in the United States. the level of
racial resentment is off the charts. anti-immigrant sentiment is
extraordinarily high. the people in this room, we’re the outliers. in the
middle of the of the distribution of outlook or worldview or whatever is “anti”
those things. and what skillful “skillful” (panelist laughs) leaders like Donald Trump or Geert Wilders, or whomever, they’re tapping into that. so what Larry refers
to it as is they’re tapping into a reservoir it’s not a wave. you know we’d
like to think of it as a wave because a waves gonna crash at some point. but
instead it’s worse — it’s a reservoir. those attitudes exist, they’re widespread.
there’s been concern in Europe about tapping into those things because of the
history of anti-semitism in world war two. but now that the other is not Jewish
but instead African or Muslim, it’s okay. and so these welfare states that you
were talking about in these places they used to have really high trust in
government, like Denmark, and Finland, and Sweden, they don’t anymore —
you know why because they don’t want the services to go to the other they’re fine
taking care of Swedes and Danes, but they’re not so fine taking care of other
people. (panelist interjects) it’s a zero-sum. right, yeah,there you go. that’s exactly right. that’s exactly it’s
perfect. and democracy let’s these people have a voice. and if you don’t want them
to have a voice you have to you have to shut down democracy. (other panelist) when you see these people you mean the right wing? (original speaker) well no, know if immigrants are coming in oh– they are coming in and you don’t want them to have a voice — democracy gives
them opportunity. so then you have to shut down democracy. so before we open
the the conversation up to the audience I want to give our panelists one more
sort of general question to address and then we’ll turn and take
questions from the audience. what do you think each of you think at this point is
the biggest unanswered question about trust and institutions? so you’ve given
us a lot of points that you think are salient a lot of points that you think
are driving these trends. what do you think — what do we not know enough about right now that we should know that we what we really want to know about? so
they will go reverse order those times okay so the one thing that really occurs
to me is you know this idea of drilling down more deeply into what parts of
government you know how people are evaluating you know these different you
know say cabinet agencies or you know whatever they might be.
do people have enough information about them to actually provide anything other
than a non attitude? so I made reference to the Health and Human Services. well,
you know, if people don’t know what Health and Human Services is you know
what’s the point of asking them about it? you know you’re just gonna get a lot of
noise. how do we get around that problem? I don’t know the answer to it.
You know, Tom and I tried you know to provide people with more information about you
know things. it didn’t seem to make much of a difference you know in that regard.
so one of the things that I wonder you know is possible can we study these
component parts of government in an environment where we know people have
low levels of information about them? which is interesting to contrast with
Elizabeth’s point before and some of what we were studying which is that
we’re in this environment right where ostensibly we should have much more
information, but is there a kind of curvilinear relationship you give people
a little more information they know a little bit more you give them non-stop
information from everybody and it becomes impossible to sort of process
and disentangle. and there has to be a motivation for people to listen to it.
it may be that you know we all have motivation you know to listen to it,
but you know 95% of the public you know with like who cares.
Elizabeth — so I think that people are a lot more conflicted about their
attitudes about both democracy and about our institutions. and I don’t think we
have we’ve tapped into that that conflicting ideas that you
know inconsistent ideas that people might have.
so this recent article that Steve Nicholson co-authored looking at
implicit trust versus explicit trust I found fascinating. because I really do
think that there’s something I I do think that a lot of people if I mean if
you ask them would you prefer democracy over other forms of government, they’re
going to say democracy, right? because we’re trained we’re socialized into this
from a young age. so I’m intrigued it I would be intrigued at trying to figure
out trying to parse out these different attitudes people have to try to make a
better sense of how it all fits together into into what we’re seeing now. and you
know related to the the Trump vote, I do think that it it’s and and also
right-wing leaders on nationalist leaders and Europe there’s I I’m curious
about how people think about that and how it relates to democracy and what
they’re thinking about how this furthers democracy. the whole attempts to try to
decrease voter turnout you know how does that fit you know how do we think about
that in the United States. and so I think there are a lot of conflicting ideas
people have and I would like to get it better at what they’re thinking. for me, I
think it would be a matter of getting a better handle of our behavioral analyses.
so in other words, what it means for us to consider both qualitative and
quantitative approaches to conceptualizing our measures. so how we
can go into the field and actually ask people taking that time right ahead and
resources to ask people what they’re thinking about with respect to trust and
being more specific with our questions. so, no we may not be able to ask how much do you trust in Congress, but we might ask how much do you trust in Congress to
do such-and-such? to pursue this interest? or what have you. so our specificities
might help us gauge more accurately what people are thinking but then of course
what that means for us then and placing that in a survey is yet another thing.
and so I’ll add to that, what would be important is I think we really have to
get a handle of our measures on race and racial attitudes because I at least from
what I’m seeing with various questions that I’m I’m culling in various surveys,
they have implications for race because there are policy issues that have been
racialized over time, for example, that are suggesting that whites and non-whites
are thinking differently and what that means for how we’re able to ask
questions to tap into what exactly that means I think we need to consider more.
and are there specific when you talk about drilling down on some of these
things and the kinds of things we can learn or do you about like asking about
well not just Congress but Congress in this… are there specific areas that you
think are particularly important that are under studied at this point about
you know different institutions and what in different aspects of those
institutions? and I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but like just like to
draw that out just a little bit more. so if you think that like asking these more
specific questions like what are we what are we missing now by not having asked
those questions say on the you know the general time series on the General
Social Survey or something like that. well, to start, I think we lose out on
that longitudinal analysis, right. so over time how we can see these attitudes have
changed. but also I’m thinking perhaps beside the size of government question,
so what does that mean when you see that these groups are thinking about the size
of government differently. how is it that we can probe people to
ask them more specifically what they have in mind as far as the size of
government. I’m trying to think of another. oh, one that really stood out for
me was that we see a difference in the definition of success for American
government that whites are more likely to express that that success exists
because of principles of government whereas we see that Latinos and Blacks
are more likely to suggest that it’s because of changes in government. so that
juxtaposition of those points of view and what actually if we were to think a
little bit more about it historically, really do have meaning as far as these
political histories in the United States. clearly there’s something else to tap
into as far as we can potentially ask these groups about what they mean for
the successes of the nation. okay. yeah. you know one of the things that I think
could be really useful is you know if we have problems that need to be solved —
could you know some of these data be you know provider recommending quality to
policymakers. so we know that if you frame a policy change in terms of
government people are going to hate it. but, what if we framed it in terms of you
know this agency is going to take care of it. you know Health and Human Services
it’s not a government-run program, it’s a Health and Human Services run program.
you know you know, maybe then that becomes a political football you know I
don’t know, probably so. but um but but I think because you know as Tom and I you
know found in our work I mean, people’s levels of trust in government is not the
mean or of all of their evaluations of the component parts of government. in
fact it’s lower than all of them you know in in that sense. so with that in
mind I think that’s really really important and this gets I think actually
at your open-ended approach to this. I mean it’s not the institutions, it’s not
the agencies, it’s not the departments, it’s not any of those things — what is it??
I mean we just don’t know. right, okay so on that cheery note (laughter), I would like to open
it up to the audience for questions. so if you could when you ask your
question if you could state your name and then you can direct it to the
panelists. so all right. yeah one is a quick finality so you’ve seen the low
levels of trust in France and so in the US and so when I think of France I think
it is a case of depolarization when the two parties have converged so much so
it’s a big blurb and so you don’t know who to vote for. so Marine Le Pen ends up
being way more convincing. and Mark just gave the story about its polarization
that’s driving this, so is it two different tracks for the same outcome?
and then my second question is about ideology
and that’s a problem because since in who had two treatments at the same time
Marine Le Pen won both after the Great Recession, but also because she changed
the ideological platform and she tapped into an economic story and economic
resentment there was not part of the far right thing I think Trump also tapped
into. sowhat’s of all the supply-side, you know,in explaining these dynamics? I can take a stab at it as a non expert on France
let me throw myself at it. my understanding at least is certainly the
case in the United States and I suspect that it may be the case in France. you
know there are moments in time when these types of messages are likely to
resonate more, you know. you know it’s hard to make a right-wing populist case
when everybody’s happy — the attitudes are there but even the craftiest candidates
are gonna have a hard time. so you know in the wake of you know say the refugee
crisis or you know an economic downturn you know that the timing is right. on but
I think what at least in the u.s. the you know the consensus among political
scientists is is this notion of economic unease, this economic anxiety is crazy.
and it’s it there’s no evidence you know that that’s actually the case. it’s
always it seems to be about race it seems to be about ethnicity, it seems to
be about concern about the other. I don’t know whether that would be the
case in France, obviously the voting system is different. I don’t know how it
would find force there in this way, but what does seem to be the case is that
the Le Pen voters were making decisions based on their overall worldview, as
opposed to their economic anxieties. my sense is what the economic anxiety does
is you know gives people a fig leaf to hide behind because they’d really rather
not view themselves as being anti-other. so for me, I’m going to approach this
perhaps from a historical lens and using the United States. and that probably the
United States was depolarized because there were the same perspectives of
exclusion for many of these groups, right. but now
we have a party system such that one party increasingly shows an expression
of inclusion whereas the other now is moving to in the opposite direction,
hence the polarization. so I think in some ways there is some operation in
tandem, it’s just a different moment in political history and what that means.
yeah I would it’s interesting you’re your explanation here supervising a PhD
student who’s at Columbia who named Maria Segovia and she’s looking at this
in Hungary is making a similar argument in the Hungarian case that you have this
migration of this of the left-wing party towards the center and that what that
does is it opens up what used to be sort of left-wing voters are getting picked
off by a sort of far-right wing party with a kind of populist economic matches
and so she’s this so this story of what’s happening with Le Pen. you know so
there is an interesting question about and that then leads into these sort of
going back to your sort of long-term effects you can talk about long-term
effects of decline in trust but long-term effects of some of these grand
alliances in the Middle where the center and left the center left and centre
right start to look like each other.and I think it’s I think that’s a very
important research question to see whether traditional left-wing voters are being picked off. which is similar coming back
to the US, where you talk about sort of union workers being picked off in the
Midwest by Trump and sort of flitting around you know to the other side of
this so I think there are interesting parallels there. okay yes next is it Mike
right next to you Joel Kupersmith I’m here at Georgetown
you’ve spent most of the time on government institutions but I wonder
whether you think that the decline and private institutions in this country has
had a great impact on this you know the sort of Bowling Alone concept both in
terms of giving individuals identity and also broader political representation at
times through these organizations? and I just want to make sure that I
heard and he said private institutions were what respect I’m sorry I had
trouble hearing? do you mean declining trust in non-government institutions or
do you mean more like a Putnam less? but in government because of loss of
identity of individuals and the fact that some of these organ is a local
unions and others represent them in a broader way and they no longer have that
representation. well one thing that I think is is really interesting I mean
the the the trends in the GSS data over time are really stark especially over
the last you know 15 or so years when it relates to as relates to scientific
experts, religion, and business. I mean they’ve just been you know they just
nose-diving along with well actually more rapidly than government, you know in
that sense. I could just speak to one of those and that is religious institutions,
I think that the impact of that is you know a politician of people who do
identify with religion. they they feel like their identities are under attack
you know by the rest of the country and I don’t think that there’s any doubt
that that’s a source of some of the polarization you know that is you know
taking place in the country these days. and one of the things that makes you
know political conflict so so so uncomfortable at this point. I don’t know
that business or science or these other institutions play that same role, but I
think the sense of siege that people who are religious feel especially those in
the evangelical community feel from the outside world is important. I would say
that you know we know that generalize trust is related to political trust so
there is a relationship between the two and the less people feel this sense of
generalized trust the less it’s likely that they’re going
to have less political trust. and and I do think that like the decline in unions
has an impact I mean people people in decline in religious institutions
because people don’t have that that strong sense of identity with with those
groups. I do think though that kind of the fact that there is declining trust
in all sorts of different institutions suggests it’s a really bigger we can’t
just look at politics for an answer to the decline and Trust. and it’s not just
a u.s. thing so we have to look more broadly than the United States. it’s that
the declining Trust is a big overarching thing that’s happening and as I said
before I think that income inequality has something to do with it because I do
think this sense of of not not feeling like you’re benefiting from from the
society it has plays a role. but I think there’s other things too I just think
and it could be the decline in social capital it can be I mean there’s all
sorts of different explanations but it is bigger than just politics. and I would
even offer it something that you mentioned earlier Lisbeth and that was
the significance of scandal so what that means for revelations of scandals and
these different institutions of course it would depend upon testing that
relationship by people’s awareness of them and what that means for how they
perceive that these institutions are fulfilling what people might think are
their purpose whether or not they’re some discrepancy could possibly lead to
distrust as well. yeah, I was curious about the the notion
of a reservoir versus a wave and how if if Trump represents some kind of crisis
of trust in the institutions and his election does and if we look at the the
threshold there as his nomination rather than his election with kind of the
strength of partisanship basically, how would the overall broad crisis of trust
in institutions mix with more or less static reservoir and maybe something in
the parties and maybe something in media, maybe something more specific, that
somehow lets Trump win the nomination or let’s you know if it’s gonna be a longer
kind of movement maybe let’s Palin when vice presidential nomination. you know
what what is different that’s allowing this reservoir to get the nomination,
which then puts it in proximity of the White House? you know how does the party
or not the party but the the general trust fit in there? I don’t mean to start
every one of the answers you know my sense is what allowed you know trust
what allowed Trump to win the nomination is you know frankly I mean I don’t mean
to be overly partisan about this but it’s a series of decisions that
Republicans have made for about the last 50 years — you know to highlight you know
race, ethnicity, women’s rights, LGBT rights, you
know all in a negative way. and it created a coalition of people who
are extraordinarily cynical. they’re cynical about government, they feel like
things are being taken from them, and other people are being put in the front
of the line, you know these other groups. you know those people used to be split
evenly between the parties in the 80s and the 90s. and in fact I suspect they
used to be mostly Democrats in the 40s and the 50s. but as politics came to be
about these types of issues race, gender, crime, and punishment which is highly
racialized you know those types of things, LGBT rights, and then add to it
how to deal with terrorism, you know the it created a coalition in the Republican
Party where this went from being a relatively small group of people to
being one that was large enough that in a crowded field of 15 candidates that
they could provide the nomination or at least the movement towards Donald Trump
at the beginning of the process. I mean you think about how he started his
candidacy you know they’re sending rapists you know for I mean oh this is
no joke. and you know that and that tapped into something you know you
didn’t see the you know other Republican candidates pushing back and saying no
they’re not in fact they pushed for you know more
restrictions as a related to immigration to they do you know what the party was.
and that’s fine, you know for the party if the if the establishment still has
control of them. you know so if Romney is still going to get the nomination while
these folks will vote for us, if McCain gets the nomination you know
these folks will vote for us, but now they’re running the show. you know the
sort of Pat Buchanan and Sarah Palin Donald Trump part of the party, they run
it. and if I can also add that I think those attitudes that were more or less
massaged also were coupled with the the notion of a maverick, right. and so who
would be that person who could carry that message in a way that they do not
care about the repercussions. and so with timing, with with the attitudes that were
right to be coaxed, here we are in this moment where we have found that person
that brought that to the parties for. and I would add to that that
the Republicans have for a long time been running against government and that
people shouldn’t trust government and therefore having one candidate who is
absolutely not government be the one who wins the nomination is to me hardly
surprising. so if you’re going to just really foment not only a lot of their
racial stuff and-and-and this kind of notion that the Maverick is great, but
you also ferment this idea that people shouldn’t trust government government is
bad government is evil and then you are going to go elect somebody you’re going
to try to pick somebody who doesn’t represent that evil, right? you’re gonna
pick somebody who’s outside of the government. and when I don’t think
Democrats are necessarily immune to this I mean when people started talking about
Oprah Winfrey being the next presidential candidate for the Democrats
I just screamed inside — it’s like no! it actually takes some skill to be a good
leader in our government. if you can’t just you can’t just be able to run a
talk show of whatever type or some television reality show and be a good
president. and so I think this this fomenting of distrust in government that
we’ve seen a lot is is really eating it at the heart of having you know we elect
people who are not good. let me just add just to make clear that both Shayla and
Beth are exactly right about this. I mean we’ve had like Tom Tancredo in the past
you know they didn’t go anywhere. you know it’s the skill and the outside
earnest of Donald Trump that seems to be like the x-factor you know in this
regard. yeah and I would also just I would caution a little bit about I think
we have a tendency when things happen to look back and say well that was
definitely gonna happen. I mean that election was a statistical tie — I mean
you run that election a hundred times maybe Trump wins sixty times and Clinton
wins forty times. had Clinton won that election we would be talking about how
this was a toxic cancer for the Republican Party they were the first
time to have lost three terms in a row. we’d be invoking Tom Tancredo you know.
like there was a whole narrative set to say that this was the end you were
listening I mean I I sat with Republican campaign consultants after 2012 and they
knew what the party had to do to remain relevant in a world where the white
the population was declining and that was the Republican Party had to stress
make outreach to Latinos and stress small government, conservatism,
Catholicism these kinds of things the dream candidate was Marco Rubio. that was
going to turn the ship around and you know and you can just imagine the
narrative oh my we picked the absolute opposite candidate to do that. the party
lost an election it should have won, there’s a massive cleansing of the party
going on right now right. and this is all based on a statistical coin flip, right?
like now we can ask why the election was that close.. so I just want it there were
some idiosyncrasies around that election and I think the 16 candidates running
for election going back to my earlier point that we can look across Europe and
we can see these kinds of candidates routinely getting 15% of the vote and
whether it’s racial resentment versus economic discontent these things are
happening in the aftermath of this severe economic dislocation that took
place ten years ago, right? and they’re happening not just in the United States.
I mean you could ask a thought experiment of what happens if Jeb Bush
and Marco Rubio make a deal beforehand and one of them runs and the other one
doesn’t run and Chris Christie decides to take out some other candidate besides
Rubio and that debate and you just spin this thing a little differently. so I do
think we have to be I mean I think the reservoir thing is absolutely correct
and that’s why I’ve been pushing the panelists a bit and one of the things
I’m very interested in learning on this project over the longer term is whether
this is the thing that’s increasing over time. obviously we know there’s a lot of
elite cueing that goes on and so one of the big questions is is now that moment
in time that fulcrum if we hadn’t had this situation where the Republican
Party and let’s call it let’s call this what it was the Republican Party got
stuck with the candidate they did not want, right. that was the least and it was
just sort of a crazy moment that at the end the Republican Party leadership was
trying to decide between Ted Cruz who they also didn’t want yeah and and Trump
you know and that this was a situation and and so it’s an interesting note so
there’s a lot of interesting things about what happened. now,
what happens now that we’re living under this is another question. and whether
this story that we’re now telling about how the Republican Party is inevitably
was inevitably gonna get to this point will now be true because the leadership
of the Republican Party is at this point and is around Trump as is I think an
open question so not to overstate this. and they could have had John Kasich you
know who looks vaguely like me — so that could have been huge right. okay
we’ve got many more questions. that you’re in the audience yes Chris White, I’m a student here at Georgetown. Jonathan, you mentioned on the
panel, but I’ll direct the question of Joshua, your partner in research you
mentioned that you’re interesting to an over sampling of racial minorities as
part of the Baker poll. I’m wondering to what extent you guys are incorporating
the perspectives of some of your colleagues of color in terms of
calibrating the questions that might not occur to you if the the targeted poll
people you’re polling are not don’t share aspects of their identity with you? that’s enough I know my lavalier
it’s on. oh, it’s okay. great, um that’s great that’s a great question. um one of
the things throughout the whole process we want to bring in a wide variety of
voices and suggestions and that’s one of the reasons we wanted to start with and
before we went into the field have a convening like this and also as we move
forward I think we want to every time we do an iteration if we do iterations of
this, we want to consult widely and get suggestions widely. I think another thing
we want to do is the open with is the oblique knowledge that none of us kind
of know what people are thinking. and so the open-endeds, I hope, will
acknowledge that we don’t we’re getting it wrong maybe or agree
we were not understanding a wide variety of American communities the way we
should. but but I think that’s that’s essential and I think it has been a
weakness of some of the polling that I’ve used and other people have used is
that we haven’t drawn on suggestions and experts in
communities of color to write the questions when we do closed-ended
questions. and I think so I think it’s essential that the that we do that and
and do more more reaching out and more convenings to do that. yeah it’s a
great that’s a great that’s a great idea I mean I think a part of our hope here
is that by the combination of the open-ended questions and the over
sampling of groups so we can actually have large enough samples to make
inferences about the subpopulations in the survey, that will in enable sort of
people who are interested in this to think about asking questions that they
haven’t asked before in this regard and then people will be able to get that
information out of this and that’s part of the idea about trying to make the
data accessible and open for people to to analyze. but it’s a great point yes thank you
um can you hear me okay my name is Lorelei Kelly, I’m at the Beeck Center and
for social impact and innovation here at Georgetown. I’m gonna be a devil’s
advocate a little bit in terms of institutions and the trust deficit. I
work directly with members of Congress and their staff in districts so talking
to district facing staff about who they trust for policy information. and one of
the things that is obvious in all of the discussions I’ve had is that the people
inside the institution have lots of reasons to not trust the public. a lot of
it is because the information tsunami that’s coming at them all the time
antiquated methods of sorting and filtering, to things like any extra money
they get, and this is true this year, didn’t go to capacity or expertise, it
went to bulletproof vests — they you know they get shot at we’ve sort of destroyed
every possibility of thoughtful deliberation in public and also inside
Congress itself. I mean look at the legislation over the last six months I
feel like that it’s not fair to make this a one-way problem unless we also
address the fact that and we have a whole technology industry
built a connection platform on an advertising model and has basically
strip-mined civics so you it’s not only monetized
it’s weaponized do you go and I’m saying it’s like
there’s got to be a way to have some more empathy for the institution itself
in this trust deficit because there are real reasons why people in elected
office don’t trust what’s coming at them and when it’s doing is just causing the
circling the wagons phenomenon that every single congressional staff I
talked to has something it’s called the gut check basically who’s talking to you
how do they know you where do they come from and thrown up then it becomes a
question of are we broadening the aperture of access to the conversation
and that is happening it is happening in really interesting unusual ways. but it’s
not gonna happen in DC it’s gonna be decentralized. that’s where the trust
exists and it’s really still in person. so I don’t know how you capture that, but
I feel like it’s really important to look at it as a two-way deficit. and do
you have a specific question? oh yeah I’m sorry my question is are you seeing any
of the sort of wave of civic activism now building a successful connection
instead of just sort of protest or you know more running against the
institutions? I have I have seen some of that and so I’m hopeful that this
organizing that’s happening now will make the parties obsolete for example or
will create the methods of trust based community, emergent collaboration, that
kind of thing. do you see any of that happening? no (laughter) and you know this is the thing, I mean one of the reasons in this you know starts in in the in the wake of
the Great Society. and the violence that you know is there
and then and the lack of success of the Carter presidency. nobody says anything
nice about government I mean nobody does. they’re there appear to be no incentives
for people to say anything positive about it. you know this is Bill Clinton
tried to you know and Democrats need to write because this is the set of
institutions that should be or will be the policy drivers the makers of policy.
you know why do we have such low levels of trust I mean you know the
foundational theories and you know if public opinion is that you know it’s
going to reflect the balance of things of considerations that elites provide. if
nobody provides any positive considerations about government, nobody’s
gonna think anything positive about government. but it’s a very
self-fulfilling prophecy you know at this point. if when people say something
positive about it they just get shouted down. you know folks are not going to you
know say anything positive. and and if they’re rewarded and on the other side
of the coin for being negative you know then they’re going to keep doing that. I
don’t know how that say that cycle breaks other than to figure out some
ways to provide people with incentives you know to speak on behalf of the
positive things that government does. it would be great
you know if somebody were in a position to stand up and do something along those
lines. I think it would make a difference. but
it’s also the case that you know people in the government say negative things
about the government all the time, right? I mean Dick Fellows thing, right? they go
back home and they trash Congress and you know so. and and people love their
own member of Congress that’s gone down but they still tend to like their own
member of Congress much more than they like all the other members of Congress
if they could just vote out the other you know 533 people through 32 people
they’d be happy. but they can’t and so I think I mean it is I I think Fennow’s work
is really instructive about how member of Congress do think about their
constituents and and as I said before I think it is a real skill to be a good
political leader. and I don’t think people necessarily appreciate that. but
boy I sure don’t see the demise of parties. I don’t see real rise in
activism that is trying to be more open and inclusive and and and empathetic. I
don’t see that much at all I see much more of a rise in this especially social
media attacks where anything that said there’s just this this just vitriol
that’s directed it whoever said it. and I also think the way that media tend to
cover what’s going on in Congress has a corrosive effect because instead of. I
mean there are real differences in policy interests of people and so the
debate in Congress is legitimate. I mean we do have to have real debate, but the
media coverage tends to focus on the bickering and dysfunction and I think
that’s problematic as well. I would say some well I do not quite see the demise
of parties being on the immediate horizon no but what I do think might be
distinctive about this moment is political entrepreneurship. and so what
that means for influence as far as people actually running their own
candidacies to then represent the interests of people who are in the
collective mindset as they are I think will be different. so we’re seeing at
least groundwork and I can only say this anecdotally, but that there are
organizations movements that are attempting to run people as candidates.
and as people do see money being perhaps corrosive for politics
I think nonetheless there is an attempt to provide resources for these
candidates to challenge the ideas that might be connected to money and politics
in the way that we’ve seen it manifest thus far.
two points on that one is one of the things that we’re gonna have on the
survey is a few questions about political participation. so it’s going to
be interesting to see I mean I do think that this one of the you know each
reaction begs a reaction and there has obviously been since the election of
Trump a group of people that have gotten involved in the political process be it
through protesting be it through organization be it through community
organization be it through running for office that is higher and for those
particular groups of people than had been previously. and so it’s going to be
interesting to see we’re intrigued to know about whether this experience of
participating in politics what that does to these kinds of trust levels, what that
does for support for democracy. I mean it’s a you can have your policy issues
where you will but it seems to me pretty impossible not to be inspired by these
Parkland kids who are just sort of like you know lighting up a generation of
younger people who are seeing what’s happened and we do know that social
media makes it easier for people to participate in politics and we can have
debates about the extent of that participation but the fact that I mean
this parklands or is such an illustration of it that these high
school kids are suddenly having this you know big national megaphone and it’s
being provided by the media but in part it’s being provided by their ability to
organize other people on social media social media we have lots and lots of
examples we can talk about the pernicious effects of it on democracy
but we can also talk about the ability it gives people to organize and solve
these kinds of collective action problems so hopefully one of the things
that this study will allow us to do is sort of look and see whether there are
relationships between people who are participating in politics and their
levels of trust and we are I think in a moment right now when there are
different levels of people participating in politics than we had seen previously
and you know and I think the same thing happened on the right into after the
election of Obama and Obamacare where you saw the rise of these Tea Party
organizations right so this may be the left’s moment in that regard and it may
be a rebalancing out I will say one thing about parties though right like
the weakening of parties is what got you Donald Trump as the nominee of the
Republican Party right so there’s a lot of discussion about you know and a lot
of these issues about money in politics and the way money in politics is flowing
right now is it’s flowing to non party actors right so party the decline of
parties is is is a very complex issue and I think
there are people who who study this in the in the u.s. context that can
illuminate this a lot but I think it’s it’s important to be aware of you know
what what’s driving that and what are the consequences of that and what you
know we’ll see going forward in elections in that regard okay
other Kissin yeah bill Gormley from the McCourt School so one of the pretty
consistent findings from the trust polls over many years is that state and local
governments enjoy greater trust than the federal government and one possible
explanation for that is that their goods and services are more visible and and
more tangible you know you get to see road crews at work you get to rub elbows
with your child’s teacher at school and so forth
but I wonder if there are some other explanations for example you mentioned
the Stoneman Douglas students who are so inspiring they’ve been able to produce
change at the state level in Florida they may or may not be able to produce
change arguably state local governments are more responsive than the federal
government so what what is your view on why the polls over so many years have
shown that the public has greater confidence in state and local
governments than in the federal government so I think one thing that’s
fascinating is that as state government started cleaning up their act more their
confidence in them went down so I do think there’s something kind of
intriguing about that I also I think that we we had talked earlier about how
the more homogeneous a political unit the the more people tend to like their
government and the less heterogeneous the less they like it I think that at
the state level I mean I’m from Nebraska how homogenius can you get and people
tend to love their state government it’s it’s you know it gives services to
people who are part of the community and in a kind of a homogeneous way and I
think that when you expand it to the national level all these people are
benefiting and again it could because I live in Nebraska but you know the whole
idea for Nebraskans that Californians get anything is just a Pollak you know
what why would California to get anything so if there is this kind of I
think the homogeneity of of state and local especially local units it is tends
to be more not it’s homogeneous in in a lot of different ways but part of it is
in a political way so people ideologically are tend to be a bit more
similar they tend to share the same you know values and all of that feeds into
it oh so well for me I expressed earlier that when we disaggregate the analyses
for trust in federal government versus state and local government we actually
find that for example black Americans are actually more trusting of federal
government than state and local government so I just wish to emphasize
this notion of living in a heterogeneous environment versus homogeneous
environment really does perhaps make a difference in how we see those two
levels of government perceived I’ll add one last thing to piggyback on Beth’s
point and to suggest the European counterpart to this I mean you know the
more homogenous places like in northern Europe have really high levels of you
know trust and strong social safety nets and so the homogeneity piece has to be
an important one let me also suggest that it may be that people have no idea
what state government does I you know most of the papers that I’ve refereed
over the years that use trust in state government as as a dependent variable
the only thing basically that is statistically significant is how much
people trust the federal government and it has the same word trust you know
in it in other and what that means you know to people who don’t do quantitative
Social Sciences nothing is related to this bit not very much is related to
trust in state and local government and you know one explanation of that is that
people it they’re answering at random you know in a sense but it you know it’s
positive because it’s you know cuz it’s not the federal government my mic oh thank you okay so is that
another instance where white Americans in communities of color are different so
white Americans might not have much of an attitude toward state local
government because they can afford not to write
but communities of color have an attitude and a fairly skeptical attitude
toward state local government because they feel you know their livelihood and
their bodily integrity is under threat from local government and some often
right so I mean white Americans might have non attitudes and communities of
color may have fairly firm attitudes if anyone it may be you know III don’t know
whether that’s the case but one of the things that occurred to me as some as
Sheila and Beth we’re answering the questions is it might be really
interesting actually to look state-by-state at this or within
different groups of states by levels of homogeneity levels of racial composition
and thinks along those lines because the answer to that question may be different
depending upon where and I do think to a certain extent the protective aspect of
the federal government historically might be a part of just some of that
relationship for people of color as far as perhaps distinctions and federal
government trust versus state local federal government taking protective
action and then state governments trying to undermine those protective actions
okay there it’s it’s pretty clear that experiences at the state of state
government versus federal government was just dramatically different for people
of color although now right we might see exactly
but it’s dramatic I you know in Tennessee one of the big stories last
week was a woman a young woman from Memphis was recognized for some bit of
heroism I can’t remember exactly what it was but then legislators in Tennessee
got the win that she was part of the black lives matter movement she and and
they sought to take away the award the recognition and you know that would send
a pretty clear message who’s on whose side you know as it relates to race and
region you know so okay we have time for one more question did you yeah Thank You
Keith early from the School of Continuing Studies and my question is
around polarization and false equivalence and it kind of spurred by
the notion that there’s a two-way deficit or nobody says anything good
about government that was noted and and I’m wondering if there is a the
equivalent of a political pox on both houses and whether or not you can look
at certain issues whether it’s the Tea Party’s response to Barack Obama or
whether it’s mass incarceration or whether it is climate change and if
there is false equivalence on both sides and if you could speak to that but what
I find fascinating is that people don’t really like their own party but they
hate the other party right so when we talk about polarization that’s there’s a
strong component of effective polarization where and again people just
don’t really love their own party if you’re a Democrat you don’t love the
Democrats if you’re a Republican you don’t love the Republicans but boy do
you hate that other party and so I think this the the emotional side of what’s
driving trust and and and even what’s driving reactions to like the science on
climate change or the science on whatever I mean good name a lot of
things is it there’s a real emotional reaction to it and and I
think feeling of threat is really underlying at all that we feel very
threatened by the idea that the other side might be making decisions on our
behalf and that’s scary as all get-out yeah yeah the survey data on that is
remarkable I think it’s about 50% of partisans view the other side as a
danger to the national interest you know according to the Pew studies it’s off
the charts relative to how it used to be one thing that I think this points to
that might be useful to think about is we approached with the 2018 elections is
you know that pox on both sides seems to be strongest among the governing party
maybe you know in these off year elections whether it was six 10 14 and
it looks like 18 we’re gonna see one side you know much more motivated and I
think Beth’s point is a really good one about it’s you know we don’t love our
own side but boy we sure know about the other and it ain’t good but we also see
that people are more trusting of their own party when they’re in leadership in
government to you that’s right so something that comes to mind as far as
the polarization aspect is that for example on climate change while we’re
seeing increasingly more polarization around that issue there are other issues
that are more polarizing so even what it means for us to examine specific issues
and ones that we really know have been polarizing and they have quite honestly
been ones that have been racialized I think this gets to the heart of again a
party system that I think is increasingly harkening some of the
implicit racial attitudes that now have become more explicit and our political
discourses so having circled back to this issue of
polarization and affective polarization I was wondering if I could get a sort of
final word from each of you about the direction of the causal arrows here with
our underlying story right we’re talking about you know we’re talking thinking
about trust in institutions change in trust of institutions do we think do you
guys think having thought about this having looked at this that this and we
do know as much as we’re like looking at the trust and it’s
to shenzhen asking you know what are the trends anything that we also know that
this effective polarization is at a higher level than it’s been previously
and perhaps that has to do with racial sorting of parties and it has to do with
changes that started with demerant Southern Democrats moving to become
Republicans but nevertheless do you think going back to Mark’s point earlier
in the beginning about like the long term corrosive effect of declining trust
in institutions do you think that the current era of effective polarization is
in part a function of long term declining trust in institutions related
to governance in the United States related to politics or do you think it’s
the other way around that effective polarization is actually
drives the long term is driving decline and Trust in institutions because when
you distrust the other party so much anything they’re touching must be you
know what you dislike the other party so much where you don’t see them as a
legitimate partner in governing anything they touch must be problematic and you
are something to be shunned or are these both sort of symptomatic of something
else that’s underlying in the background just we have like and now you guys have
one minute each to answer that question but I just thought we could we could
close on close on that note I think that it is endogenous so I think they are
feeding one another right so I think that there are elites that are casting
messages but they’re casting messages based on the messages that we find from society right and then what that means
for how then the to soar through what becomes I guess the most ideal package
for for building candidacies also builds the platforms that feed the parties
during elections if that makes sense so I find it interesting that at the
time when people feel so such effective polarization from the other party that
the institutional structure of our government is actually there to protect
from being overwhelmed by the passions of one side and and it’s at the same
time that people don’t trust that government and so there’s nothing to
then make people feel better about the whole system and how it works and how
they don’t have to be that afraid of the other side so I don’t know which comes
first chicken earned the egg but I do think
it’s ironic that there’s nothing there to kind of help people make sense of
what’s going on I even this is my take and I’m sticking
with it you know whether it’s right or not I think that it starts with what you
identify Josh and that is a party system that sorted out on different things then
it used to be you know when we disagreed about how big government ought to be and
how much we ought to spend on things we could compromise but now that we’re you
know divided on things that have to do with you know sort of cultural and value
you know type differences that creates a different type of political conflict but
you know the one of the real puzzles I think and it’s very interesting is we
have come to care so much about something that is politics that most
people don’t care about like why the heck is that
like how are there such strong feelings about something that people generally
speaking you know from converse on forward don’t care about and I think the
thing that’s happened is that you know politics isn’t just about politics
anymore you know the way that we’ve gotten sorted out sends all of these
different messages about who we are you know where we live you know rural areas
versus urban areas the types of cars we drive you know the types of beer we
drink you know we see you know someone with a dynasty t-shirt we know what they
are you see someone carrying a yoga mat you know who they are we don’t even have
to talk to them anymore in other words you know the way that we’ve gotten
sorted out you know creates the the sense that that other side is not like
us we are not like them therefore they’re dangerous and so when they’re in
charge we’re not going to trust them at all you know they were arugula eating
you know whatever you know people and you know not like not like me so I think
it you know you where as this sense of difference drives trust down when the
other side is in it doesn’t drive trust up when your side is in you know so I
think it goes from issue agenda to you there’s effect to low trust okay well on
that note please join me in thanking the panelists for an incredibly stimulating
discussion thanks

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