Americans More Wary of “Big Government” Than Ever Before

    December 19, 2013

With the U.S. Congress now seemingly more divided than ever, Americans are getting more suspicious of “big government.”

A new Gallup Poll conducted in early December has found that record numbers of Americans now view big government as a bigger threat than either “big business” or “big labor.” A full 72% of U.S. adults polled believe big government is the largest threat to America’s future, followed by only 21% who believe big business is the largest threat and only 5% who are most wary of big labor.

Americans’ distrust in government has been steadily rising since Gallup began asking this question in 1965, when big government garnered 35% in the poll. Big government did fall to only 47% mistrust and big business distrust rose to 38% in the poll during the early 00s corporate scandals such as Enron. This happened again to a smaller degree at the beginning of the financial crisis and recession in 2008. Despite these momentary spikes in negative business perception, the upward trend of American mistrust in big government is clear and this year’s findings are the most distrustful Americans have ever been of government since the mid-60s.

Distrust of big labor, on the other hand, has been slowly decreasing since 1965. Though 29% of Americans were declared big labor a bigger threat than government and business, that percentage has leveled out at around or lower than 10% since the mid-90s. This likely reflects the state of unions in the U.S. as a whole over the past five decades.

Though Republicans are, predictably, the most mistrustful of big government (92% this year), even a majority of Democrats (56%) believe big government is a bigger threat than big business or big labor.

Though this year’s poll does fit an overall trend, it also comes during at time in which government programs are coming under increased scrutiny. The botched October rollout of the website and House Republicans’ shutdown of the U.S. government caused American opinions of Congress to hit new lows. The year-long flow of revelations about worldwide and domestic NSA spying has also given big government opponents a perfect, modern example of the worst sort of government abuse.