In 1985 Sidney Verba and Gary Orren compared the views of Swedish and American political party leaders on a variety of economic issues. Swedish leaders were more likely to believe in giving workers pay more than American leaders. They were also more likely than Americans to favor putting a top limit on incomes. These cultural differences make a difference in politics. Tocqueville was amazed at how religious Americans were compared to Europeans. People in churches tend to have a feeling of civic duty. Since churches do volunteer work and donate to charity, they might feel obligated to do so as well.
But his goes back to Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone. ” Even though many people participate in civic activities such as volunteering at churches, it has still declined in the last thirty-five years. Religious beliefs have always played a big part in American politics. It fueled the break with England because they supposedly violated ” the laws of nature and nature’s God. ” Both liberals and conservatives use the pulpit to promote political change. For example, the civil rights movement was led by mainly black religious leaders.
Both Bush and Gore gave major speeches advocating the rights of religious organizations. They ere responding in part to public support for so-called faith- based approaches to solving social skills. In 2002, when a federal appeals court tried to ban the Pledge of Allegiance because it said “under God,” many people were against that. The Revolution was essentially over liberty. The adversarial spirit of the American political culture shows the distrust of authority and the controlling power of people. One must trust others if there is to br a democracy.
The first test of this was the battle between the federalists in 1800. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were against Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, This legitimized the role of the opposition party. Because a federal government was created by the constitution, it lead to a widespread participation in politics. Since there is no established national religion, it lead to several things. The religious diversity is a source of cleavage, it has facilitated the absence of political orthodoxy, and the Puritan and Catholic Church traditions have become a recurrent source of cleavage in America as well.
Family affects the way we think about the world and politics. There are certain differences in American families and European families. The children have more freedom, and they believe in quality among them. This belief makes children grow up to think that everyone should be equal and have freedom up to a certain extent. This opinion contributes to the growth of the republic. Also, there is an absence of class consciousness. Most American think they are in the “middle class. ” Horatio Alger’s no longer popular writings still have a popular message.
The opportunity for success is available to people who work hard. Americans have some common elements of political culture, but there is so much political conflict ranging from gay rights to drug use. The two major cultural classes that battle over values are he orthodox and the progressive. The orthodox believe in morality, and the rules of God are more important than self- expression. The progressive believe in personal freedom, with rules based on circumstances, and it is more important than freedom.
In the 1950s, a poll said that there has been a steady decline in percentage of people who say they trust the government. There are a few factors why this could be. First, trust in the government rose during the Reagan administration. Second, most people do not trust the officials, not the government. Even then, Americans still remain more supportive f the country than Europeans. A few reasons why citizens have lost trust in the government is due to the Vietnam War, Watergate and Nixon’s resignation, Clinton’s sex scandal, and the war in Iraq.
But in the 1950s the confidence level in the government was abnormally high due to the aftermath of World War II, the possession of the atomic bomb, overcoming the Great Depression, and currency that was the envy of the world. Because of this, Americans must have had very high expectations going into the 1960s and 1970s. And with the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War going on, it contributed o the decline of trust in the government. But they still believe in the system and each other. In Hibbing’s and Smith’s “What the American Public Wants Congress to Be,” it talks about the mistrust in government officials.
People are unhappy with the House of Representatives, but happy with the representation. This goes back to saying that people do not trust the officials, not the system. Political efficacy a citizen’s capacity to understand and influence political events. There are two parts to the sense of efficacy; internal efficacy is the ability to understand and take part in political affairs, and external fficacy is the ability to make the system respond to the citizenry. Even then, Americans’ sense of efficacy is still higher than that of Europeans.
Unlike the increase in the mistrust of government, the increase in the feeling that government is unresponsive has not been shaped by any particular events. Americans are “alienated” from politics. Political tolerance is crucial to our democratic politics. lt does not recquire perfect tolerance. But citizens must be reasonably tolerant. Most Americans agree in abstracts, but would deny rights in the cases. But general levels of tolerance seem to be increasing. The average citizen’s civic intolerance can be another’s civic concern. Most Americans believe some problems come from the breakdown of morals.
They worry that nation is becoming too tolerant of actions that harm the society and something should be done about it. Fewer people are willing to act on their beliefs so they won’t restrict the liberties of other citizens. All in all, political liberty cannot be taken for granted. It is okay to not be perfectly tolerant of all issues, but groups should not pretend to be tolerant all the time either. Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address that the United States has a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”(Lincoln 1863).
If this were true, why hasn’t large budget deficit been balanced like the people want? Why are children being bussed when people opposed it? The House of Representatives impeached Bill Clinton while most most Americans opposed it. The list could go on and on. Like Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro said in “Politicians Don’t Pander,” They do not listen to what the public wants. Instead they try to create a new public opinion by manipulating the citizen’s ideas. That is another reason why there is mistrust in the government.
But then again, the American government was created to do what the people want. It was aimed for real goals, like the ones stated in the preamble of the constitution. Popular rule was only one of several means toward these goals. Such a large nation has several “publics” with many “opinions. The framers did not want theses opinions to dominate. Also, we may not even know what the public really wants because we get our information from polls that can be inaccurate a lot of the times. In addition, the government tends to listen more to the political elites because there opinions carry more weight.