How many times has America heard President Joe Biden preach about unity and how his administration would ensure the country achieves this elusive goal? Likely too many to count, but the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer released a new poll that shows not only are Republicans and Democrats even more divided than before, but also that the government is a “dividing force in society.”
Unity Goal Fail: Government Seen as Divisive
The study included opinions from 36,000 people in 28 different countries. Participants were asked about four main areas: government, media, business, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs). When considering these sectors, respondents identified which they felt were “a dividing force” or a “unifying force” in society. Government, unsurprisingly, scored the worst, with 48% saying the institution is a “dividing force.” The media came in at a close second, with 46% of the same opinion. Meanwhile, business and NGOs had more people indicating these were a “unifying force in society,” with 45% for the former and 50% for the latter.
When nearly half the participants feel the government is more about division than unity, Biden and his administration should perhaps re-evaluate the message and tactics. Furthermore, the study questioned how well these four areas were able to “solve societal problems” by taking a leadership role that included the ability to “coordinate cross-institutional efforts to solve problems” and getting results by efforts to “successfully execute plans and strategies that yield results.” No surprise that government and media had the worst results.
Take a Leadership Role
- Business: 55%
- NGOs: 55%
- Media: 45%
- Government: 44%
- Business: 65%
- NGOs: 57%
- Media: 48%
- Government: 42%
Two of the big “existential challenges” were the pandemic response and climate change solutions. Ironically, China was the only country not polled for this portion of the study. People were asked which of these institutions were not doing well on these concerns, and most said none of them were doing what they should. In this category, government and NGOs tied at being the worst in handling the pandemic with 60%. Media followed at 58% and Business at 57%.
Climate change is a touchy and controversial topic, with so many opinions on the best way to solve the crisis, such as trying to force everyone to switch to electric vehicles. Or Biden’s recent visit to California to tour the flooded region, when he took the opportunity to say we will see a lot more of this because of climate change. For once, the government wasn’t the worst offender in the results, coming in second for not doing well, with 68% voter disapproval. Business, on the other hand, was the number one offender with 69%, and NGOs barely beat out media with 65% compared to 66%.
Summing up the unity vs disunity, the results say the “Cycle of Distrust Threatens Societal Stability,” finding that:
“Government and media feed cycle of division and disinformation for votes and clicks.
“NGOs and businesses pressured to take on societal problems beyond their abilities.”
Government and Media Misleading the People
Fake news! Misinformation. Fact checks. These phrases seem to be used to characterize just about every contentious issue in the world. Participants were asked which institutions they worried were “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations,” and more than half said all of them. Journalists and reporters, of course, had 67% of those questioned say they were concerned about not getting the truth, with “My country’s government leaders” coming in second at 66% and business leaders with 63%.
“Fake news concerns at all-time highs” was another section of the poll, and every country questioned had more than 60% agree with the statement: “I worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon.” Spain had the highest number of concerned with 84% and the Netherlands the lowest with 63%. The United States showed 74% were concerned about weaponizing fake news.
During the midterm election, there were a lot of polls on the biggest concerns for voters, the results of which candidates used to bolster their campaign rhetoric to gain more votes. This study showed “societal fears on the rise,” with 85% of those questioned saying they worried about job loss. Next in line was climate change, with 75% concerned, and close on its heels was cyberattacks at 71%. After that is losing citizen freedoms, with 65% worried, and 57% saying they are concerned about experiencing prejudice or racism.
Republican and Democrat Divide Grows Wider
Another surprising discovery was that, for the first time, Democrats trust businesses more than Republicans do. Confidence in business has fallen below 50% for those on the right side of the aisle, dropping to only 48% having faith in industries, while 55% of those on the left feel more comfortable. In fact, Republicans have lost more trust in all the sectors while Dems have dropped only five points (55% have trust), and that in media, on the trust index.
When it comes to NGOs, Republicans went down 11 points (38%), 20 points in government (29%), and 13 points (24%) in media. Dems, on the other hand, increased their trust in business by one point (55%), and – ahem – six (53%) for government.
So What Does All This Mean?
It’s clear that people are becoming less satisfied with and trustful of the government, including listing it as the number one cause of disunity. The media are now considered a risk, and that has many concerned that the news produced will be less truthful and might be used as a weapon. And Republicans are even more distrustful now than before.
Some might argue that the divide and distrust are the result of the progressive agenda trying to make everyone woke. Whether it’s critical race theory in schools, transgender sports, burning and outlawing books, banning racist words like “American,” cancel culture, or all of the above, it’s obvious that we are not getting any closer to the unity Biden promised.
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