Roundup: Editorial opinions from other papers
Americans show disdain for their government
In 1958, more than three-quarters of Americans trusted their government all or most of the time. Today, only 19 percent do, and more than half believe that “ordinary” people could do a better job of fixing the nation’s problems than its current crop of elected officials.
The troubling new data from the Pew Research Center help to explain the popularity of Republican presidential candidates who have never held office, such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson. The report also shows that Americans in both political parties remain sharply and predictably divided but share common ground in their disdain for the status quo.
In interviews with more than 6,000 Americans between Aug. 27 and Oct. 4, Pew found deep discontent in elected officials and the machinations of government, with 74 percent of respondents saying elected officials put personal interests ahead of the nation’s and nearly 60 percent believing their government needs “very major reform.”
On many issues, respondents were divided along party lines in predictable ways. Democrats, for example, were significantly more likely to say that government should play a major role in easing poverty and ensuring access to health care (72 percent and 83 percent, respectively) than Republicans (36 percent and 34 percent). Republicans were nearly three times more likely than Democrats to say they are angry with the government, as opposed to simply unsatisfied (32 to 12 percent).
A sizable majority said the government is doing a good job of protecting the nation from terrorism, responding to natural disasters and keeping food and medicine safe.
A pronounced and sustained distrust of government and its elected officials should do more than worry Americans and their leaders. It should effect change. But nothing too major, please, since Americans think the government, in some key areas, is doing an acceptable job.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 27
Have we had our fill of mass shootings yet?
Have you had enough yet? Are you fed up?
The murderous rampage in San Bernardino, Calif., on Wednesday, where 14 people were killed and at least 21 injured, was not only horrific, it was the second mass shooting of the day. It followed an incident in Savannah, Ga., in which one person was killed and three were injured.
The country was still processing the carnage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday in which a gunman killed a police officer and two civilians and wounded nine others. And again, there had already been another mass shooting that day, in which two were killed and two were injured in a restaurant in Sacramento.
The Washington Post reported that there were at least 351 mass shootings — defined as an incident in which at least four persons are killed or injured by gunfire — in the first 334 days of the year, citing data from a Reddit community that tracks mass shootings.
In reporting the San Bernardino massacre, the BBC opened its coverage by saying: “Just another day in the United States of America, another day of gunfire, panic, and fear.”
Britain, Australia, Japan and other countries have the gun violence problem under control. This country, sadly, does not. Guns are expected to surpass car crashes for the number of American deaths caused in 2015. In 2013, the last year for which National Center for Health Statistics data is available, 33,636 Americans were killed by guns — homicide, suicide, accidental discharge — versus 33,782 fatal crashes.
Still, the San Bernardino shootings may have nudged the debate a small step forward: Many, including Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., called out the “thoughts and prayers” response as meaningless and, for those taking money from the National Rifle Association, hypocritical. Sen. Murphy tweeted:
“Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing — again.”
Point well taken. Sending thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims and the brave first responders has become a hollow sentiment that achieves very little, rather like rounding up the usual suspects.
If daily mass shootings are the price for living in the U.S., the price is too high. Ask the people in Newtown.
Hartford Courant, Dec. 4