Americans are really pessimistic about the state of politics in the country, and they don’t foresee things getting better anytime soon. A new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll reveals 71 percent of Americans believe problems in U.S. politics “have reached a dangerous low point,” and a majority of those see it as the new normal and not just a temporary glitch in an otherwise fine system. Although the anger isn’t solely directed at the White House—eight in 10 say Congress is dysfunctional—around 60 percent of Americans say Trump’s presidency is making the political system “more dysfunctional.”
When it comes to current political divisions Americans say things are at least as bad as they were during the Vietnam War, and the older generation that actually lived through that time are more likely to see the current state of affairs in a negative light. Seven in 10 Americans say divisions are at least as big as during the Vietnam War, according to the poll. And of those aged 65 and over, meaning those who were actually adults during that time, 77 percent say divisions are at least as big as during the Vietnam War.
Considering all these negative opinions about politicians, it hadrly seems surprising that Americans’ views on whether their leaders are ethical and honest reached at least a three-decade low. Only 14 percent of Americans say they have a positive view on the ethics and honesty of politicians, that is down from 25 percent in 1997 and 39 percent in 1987. When it comes to national lawmakers, a whopping 87 percent believe they largely “do whatever is needed to win reelection.”
All that is adding up to a marked decrease in the pride Americans feel about their democracy. Whereas 18 percent of Americans said they weren’t proud of the way the country’s democracy was working three years ago, that number has now doubled to 36 percent.
The poll was conducted from September 27 to October 5.