Gallup came out with the latest version of its confidence in institutions poll, the kind of survey that I think sheds more light on real public opinion dynamics than do polls on “the issues”:
This kind of thing is why it’s hard to cut the defense budget, even though voters seem relatively friendly to the idea of cutting the defense budget. No member of Congress in a tough race wants to be in a fight with a general in a country where people have enormous confidence in generals and almost no confidence in Congress. I also think it’s interesting that people have much more confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court than they do in other branches of government that are sometimes said to have more democratic legitimacy. The hurly-burly of active participation in actual politics may, in practice, serve to be delegitimizing. Operating in secret, wearing uniforms or robes, and staying above the fray seems to be the road to respect.