If you remember the Vietnam era, it seems unbelievable the U.S. military is the institution Americans have the most confidence in. The military has been on top since the 1990s. And why not? They are professional, disciplined, have honor and mostly get the job done.
In fact, if you were asked what Americans are really good at in 2011, it would be war. From high tech to low tech, big engagements to small raids, U.S. forces are dominant. Our best export is organized violence. There are times our missions are unrealistic and strategies unfounded, but generally, we can make war better than most anything we do.
Unfortunately, Americans have much less confidence in their form of government. Congress is at the bottom of the list, with the other two branches only getting about a third of the public saying they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in them.
Another bulwark of democracy, the media, is now closer to the bottom of the confidence list than the top. Newspapers and television news nearly tie with 28 percent and 27 percent of the public, respectively, saying they have confidence in them.
There are some interesting pairings. The criminal justice system only received 28 percent level of confidence, but police are near the top with 56 percent. Big business and banks are near the bottom with less than a quarter of Americans having confidence in them, but small business is second in rank on this list with two-thirds of Americans saying they have confidence in it. Organized labor is near the bottom with 21 percent confidence level and public schools, increasingly associated with their unionized staffs, has the confidence of only a third of Americans.
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