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I want to recommend this book, Marc J. Hetherington's Why Trust Matters: Declining Political Trust and the Demise of American Liberalism. I have only begun to read it, but I have looked at three of his previous papers:

  • The Political Relevance of Political Trust, APSR vol. 92, no. 4 (Dec. 1998) 791-808;

  • The Effect of Political Trust on the Presidential Vote, 1968-1996, APSR vol. 93, no. 2 (June 1999) 311-326;

  • Political Trust and Racial Policy Preferences, AJPS vol. 46 No. 2 (April 2002) 253-275
They each discuss how the dissemination of political distrust benefits conservatism. Nothing has been more effective at spreading this distrust than the Bush administration and the machinations of movement conservatism - even when bad decisions hurt them specifically, their incompetence helps them generally by producing more anti-government sentiment. When we beat Bush on Nov. 2nd, we will be faced with a generational task to restore American confidence in good, pragmatic governance.

Part of this effort will entail reasserting popular ownership of government authority. Increasing public participation in the political process, increasing the responsiveness of government institutions, increasing transparency in process as well as substance - all of these are essential steps not only to increasing government effectiveness, but to warding off the specter of conservatism.


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