WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Americans’ trust in the federal government has hit a historic low as – for the first time in the Pew Research Center’s poll history – the majority of the public says the government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.

The January 9-13 Pew Research Center poll finds that 53 percent of Americans think the federal government impedes upon their personal rights and freedoms. The percentage of people who say they are content with the government sank to a record low of only 11 percent.

The survey finds continued widespread distrust in the U.S. government.

About a quarter of Americans (26 percent) trust the government in Washington to do the right thing just about always or most of the time; 73 percent say they can trust the government only some of the time or volunteer that they can never trust the government.

Just 20 percent of Americans say they are basically content with the federal government; 58 percent say they are frustrated, while 19 percent say they are angry.

Lack of trust in the federal government has increased steadily since the beginning of the Obama administration, according to Pew poll numbers.

In March 2010, opinions were divided over whether the government represented a threat to personal freedom; 47 percent said it did while 50 percent disagreed. In surveys between 1995 and 2003, majorities rejected the idea that the government threatened people’s rights and freedoms.

And the poll found that Americans trust the system, just not the politicians themselves.

When asked if the current problem with Congress is a broken political system, or the members themselves, most people continue to point to the lawmakers. A majority (56 percent) says that the political system can work fine, it is the members of Congress that are the problem. Only about a third (32 percent) says that lawmakers have good intentions and it is political system that is broken.

And both Republicans and Democrats appear to agree that the system works – but the politicians don’t.

Nearly identical majorities of Republicans (58 percent), Democrats (57 percent) and independents (56 percent) say that lawmakers, rather than the political system, are the problem with Congress.


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