Today’s Chin Scratcher: Why Are People So Distrustful of Big Government?

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In his column today, Charles Krauthammer summarizes a talking point about the NSA’s spying programs that’s already getting a lot of air time on the right:

The object is not to abolish these vital programs. It’s to fix them. Not exactly easy to do amid the current state of national agitation — provoked largely because such intrusive programs require a measure of trust in government, and this administration has forfeited that trust amid an unfolding series of scandals and a basic problem with truth-telling.

To summarize: People are groundlessly suspicious of vital panopticonish surveillance programs, and this is all due to Barack Obama’s weaselly ways, not to the Republican Party’s relentless 30-year campaign to destroy the public’s faith in domestic programs of all sorts, mock the very idea that government accomplishes anything useful, and pander to the black-helicopter conspiracy theories of the Glenn Beck crowd.

Sorry Charlie, that’s not going to fly. If you spend decades inventing scandals out of whole cloth and insisting that big government is a menace to liberty, don’t be surprised when it turns out that an awful lot of people no longer have any trust in government. You reap what you sow.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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