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Americans ‘increasingly believe that their own institutions don’t work’

A volatile President Trump era and fallout from the recent presidential election has pushed Americans toward disillusionment with the U.S. political system, according to political scientist Ian Bremmer.

“When I think about the future of my country and what that country means, the average American no longer believes that the institutions actually work for them,” Bremmer, a geopolitical experts and founder of the Eurasia Group, said in an interview on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “So you get massive anti-establishment sentiment. … You get people that increasingly believe that their own institutions don't work.”

Pro-Trump protesters and Proud Boys gathered during the "Million MAGA March" from Freedom Plaza to the US Capitol in Washington, DC, United States on December 12, 2020. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Pro-Trump protesters and Proud Boys gathered during the "Million MAGA March" to protest the 2020 presidential election in Washington, DC, United States on December 12, 2020. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

While faith in certain aspects of America — including the the U.S. dollar and American higher education institutions — remains relatively high, he added, “nobody looks at the U.S. and says: ‘I want my political system to look like that.’”

Bremmer recalled moments of great pride and patriotism when the Berlin Wall dividing communist East Germany and West Germany fell in 1989, or when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, believing that they happened because “our ideas were better.”

Today’s the challenges are so deep and so structural, Bremmer added, that “Biden becoming president doesn't suddenly fix any of that, even if his inclination is to be much more of a unifying force.”

East and West German citizens celebrate as they climb the Berlin wall at the Brandenburg gate after the opening of the East German border was announced in Berlin, November 9, 1989.   REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (GERMANY ANNIVERSARY POLITICS)
East and West German citizens celebrate as they climb the Berlin wall at the Brandenburg gate after the opening of the East German border was announced in Berlin, November 9, 1989. (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

Faith in government ‘eroding for many decades’

American’s trust in the federal government in handling major problems has fallen nearly to all-time lows, according to Gallup.

Based on an annual poll conducted between August 31 and September 31, 2020, Gallup found that about 48% of Americans say they have a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of confidence in the government to handle international problems and 41% on its ability to handle domestic problems.

(Gallup)
(Gallup)

According to a separate report by Pew Research, after the elections on November 3, the majority of voters said they continued to feel “fearful” and “angry” about the state of the country.

The polarization of America is one of the factors driving resentment on all sides. Aside from an uncontrolled outbreak of the coronavirus, politicians in D.C. have yet to pass a second stimulus package despite the U.S. economy continuing to shed jobs as companies cut back and shutter.

“In all these ways, the coronavirus has further undermined American public confidence in the presidency, in Congress, in institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in local governments, in the news media, and even in the nation’s justice system,” Bremmer elaborated in a separate speech. “Faith in the integrity of these institutions has been eroding for many decades.”

The COVID surge continues. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
The COVID surge continues. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

Aarthi is a senior reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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