If you hear someone say that they don't trust the government, odds are that they are referring specifically to the federal government. A new Pew poll shows that people continue to trust their state and local government, much more than the federal one. This is true of people of all political persuasions. Although liberals are more likely to trust the Federal government (perhaps because a Democrat occupies the White House), that partisan trust difference disappears when you look at the state and local levels.
That is how it is supposed to be. The government that is closest to you, will make you feel like you have the most control over. It will respond quicker to your needs. They will talk about hyperlocal issues. At the end of the day, you trust them more. They are more like you. There are good reasons for this:
- Your Congressman represents 600,000 people on average. Your state representative is most likely around 50,000.
- Your Congressman lives in Washington D.C. for the majority of the year. Your state representative lives at his house in your district.
- Your Congressman worries about raising enough money for reelection. Your state representative worries about making enough money to meet his mortgage payment.
- You refer to your Congressman as Representative Johnson. You call your state representative Bob.
Most importantly though, your state and local government are working on problems that affect your daily life because it is the same problems they are dealing with as well. They have a government to run and a society to manage. That requires real work. The federal congress has the luxury of staking out pie-in-the-sky ideological battles instead of addressing down-to-earth everyday concerns as your local representative has to. No wonder you trust the guy next door more.