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Congressional Polarization

Decent Essays
Although the increase in ideological polarization in the legislative body of our nation has tracked the decline in political trust of the general public over the past several decades, their causal relationship goes in both directions. In other words, congressional polarization is the consequence, as well as the cause, of low-level political trust observed in the mass population. Together, they create a political “death spiral” that can render our legislative body of government dysfunctional. This paper will discuss the definition of political trust, its important role in the well-being of the nation, and its two-way causal relationship with congressional polarization.
What is Trust?
Trust is a complex interpersonal and organizational construct
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Donney and Canon (1997) suggests that the construction of organizational trust involves a calculative process based on the ability of the institution to continue to meet its obligations and on an estimation of the costs versus rewards received. The organizational political trust can be further subdivided into two types of trust: diffuse or system-based trust and specific or institution-based trust. While the former refers to the general public’s evaluation of the performance of the political system as a whole, the latter concerns certain political institutions, such as the Congress. In other words, to study citizens’ trust in the institutions of government, we look at their judgments about the commitment of their government to the task of representation. Citizens have access to various information sources to assess the trustworthiness of their government, one of which is through how they perceive the government to be…show more content…
Political trust matters, Hetherington (2005) argues, because it provides most needed support for the government and its institutions. When the citizens do not believe that the government is functioning well, they will not support governmental policies, significant or insignificant, which may involve essential implications, such as health care reform, welfare benefits, immigration reform, etc. The legitimacy and durability of democratic systems depend in large part on the extent to which the electorate trusts the government to do what is right and perceived as fair, as well as what is efficient.
Trust links citizens with governments and the institutions that represent them. This connection, in turn, enhances the legitimacy and stability of democratic government. To some great extent, trust benefits both citizens and governments. For citizens, trust “reduces the complexity of choice and allows them to relax the need of constantly monitor governmental institutions.” For governments, trust provides them with “the certainty that they will be obeyed, relaxing the need for use of coercive force.” Trust is, as Citrin and Muste (1999) argue, also a source of power for the
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