Public trust always plays a major role in ensuring government transparency. The public have mixed opinions on the issue of political trust over the years – some are supportive, but some are cynics. Public cynicism creates a synergy in the realm of politics. Thus, there is a need for maintaining social capital to ensure positive general public opinion. More importantly, quantitative analysis specifically explains the issues of mistrust in their respective government using statistical research methods.
The quantitative study by Donovan, Denemark, and Hoover (2004) addresses how Americans and its foreign counterparts trust their respective governments. In researching the topic, they approached different states of how the public perceives the government as a measuring stick. Previous commentary by Citrin (1974) emphasized the need for extensive study on the cynical attitudes of the public, and supported the idea that low levels of political trust play a role on how political elites make decisions and subsidize resources. Similarities in context and research methods are visible on these two studies.
Citrin’s study measured how a small sample of citizens believed in the American government during the Nixon era has done its job very well. Whereas the study by Donovan, Denemark, and Hoover compared how countries believe in their respective governments through social capital principles. Donovan, Denemark, and Hoover (2004) studied the influence of social capital, government performance and interpersonal trust separately. A connection was found in the study, citing that the level of trust varies at a lower rate when corruption in the government is prevalent. Both studies cited as examples have used statistical analytics. Using quantitative data helped Donovan, Denemark, and Hoover to determine that the psyche of interpersonal trust and political corruption create a larger impact in the societal perspective of life.
The American public traditionally showed their distrust in Congress over the years, and such trend and perceptions are far from a change of opinions (Jones, 2008). Most of the respondents of the Gallup survey predominantly comprise the middle class and lower class populaces. Therefore, it is safe to hypothesize that the basis is more on which government sector shows transparency and fairness in doing their responsibilities as a cohesive unit.
The military showed discipline and honor when carrying their duty for the public, while some of the legislators are the subject of controversy and scandals. Any high-profile politician who faces charges and law violations (proven or not) can easily draw the ire of the American public, much worse if that kind/s of political scandal/s dominate the headlines. The Congress and Senate are political institutions (other than the President), have primary control of the constitution and laws. Thus, legislative members can revise the law amendments and sugarcoat the manipulation aspect from the public. One instance is that such amendments involving tax laws may one-sidedly benefit the millionaires and may be more punitive towards working class (Goetsch, 2012). Another reason is that some Congress members have more insightful information within the stock market (Goetsch, 2012), which is unfair for newbie and independent stockholders to make proper choices when acquiring/trading stocks. Another reason is that congressional issues are becoming more complex, to the point that knowledge in advanced concepts is needed to solve the issue (Smith, Robers, and Wielen, 2012). The American Congress taking such step in analyzing issues may lead to public alienation. When the relationship between public and the government see more progress, transparency would always be a determining factor.
Citrin, J. (1976). Comment: The Political Relevance of Trust in Government. The American Political Science Review, 68(3), 973-988.
Goetsch, D. (2012, August 22). Why Americans Do Not Trust Congress and Shouldn't. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
Hoover, K., & Donovan, T. (1976). The elements of social scientific thinking. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Jones, J. (2008, June 20). Confidence in Congress: Lowest Ever for Any U.S. Institution. Retrieved November 2, 2014, from http://www.gallup.com/poll/108142/confidence- congress-lowest-ever-any-us-institution.aspx
Smith, S., Roberts, J., & Wielden, R. (2005). The American Congress (4th ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.