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American Political Ideology. Main Idea. Over time American cynicism toward the government has tended to increase, especially in relation to the events occurring at the time.

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main idea
Main Idea
  • Over time American cynicism toward the government has tended to increase, especially in relation to the events occurring at the time.
  • However, Americans have preserved the founding father’s reverence for a political system without irreconcilable disparities between parties.
  • Cross-cutting cleavages have prevented overly strong political attachments within the two major parties.
confidence in the government1
Confidence in the Government
  • Since the 1950s, there has been a sharp decrease in American confidence in the government.
  • This trend was set in motion by public disapproval of the Vietnam war and continued by events in the 70s such as the energy crisis and Iranian hostage crisis.
  • However, it is likely that confidence was artificially high in the 50s due to McCarthyism and a subsequent fear of speaking out against the government.
  • These rating do not correlate with the party in power, thus conveying the lack of major differences between parties.

Approval of Congress

  • There has been a consistent trend of disapproval of the government since the 1970s, excepting for the years immediately follow 9/11.
  • Disapproval is high during the Carter administration, but is highest under Bush Sr. Possibly due to his broken campaign promise of no new taxes and the conflict in the Middle East.
  • Once again, approval is not dependent on political party, but on individual events.
political party affiliation1
Political Party Affiliation
  • The distribution of Americans between political parties has gradually become more equal since the Great Depression.
  • Because Americans draw their political ideas from their personal backgrounds, as America has diversified with time, the political scene has become more moderate.
  • A majority of Americans today have some conservative beliefs and some liberal beliefs as well, loosening party affiliation and evening out the political arena.

In the 2012 election, Romney and Obama were separated by barely four percent of the popular vote.

political affiliation1
Political Affiliation
  • Across all categories there has been relatively little change between party affiliation– only a few percentage points.
  • Certain groups, such as women and minorities have tended to shift towards the democratic party.
  • Overall, a majority of groups– excepting minorities– are divided fairly evenly between republican and democrat.
  • Thus one can see the effect of cross-cutting cleavages and of the overarching similarities between the parties; it has created a more harmonious political landscape.
voter turn out1
Voter Turn Out
  • This graph shows a trend of increase followed by a trend of decrease.
  • In the 1800s, as more people were allowed to vote and the process became simpler and less biased, voter turn out increased.
  • In the 1900s, voter turn out leveled out at a low 60%. However, it was still impacted by individual events. For example, both World Wars lowered voter turn outs perhaps due to the expectancy of incumbent victory.
  • Voting levels were raised, however, by “cult of personality” Presidents such as FDR and Reagan. Again there appears to be no correlation to voter turn out and political parties.
  • Immigration has played a major role in shaping American political culture.
  • As more and more immigrants arrive, the more diverse American culture becomes and thus more cross-cutting cleavages are formed, making more even political landscape.
  • Immigration has also increased tolerance and lead to increased political rights for minorities.
presidential approval ratings1
Presidential Approval Ratings
  • From the graph, it is clear that Presidential approval ratings have a tendency to decline with time, thus reflecting American cynicism when not presented with immediate results.
  • This trend does not discriminate between parties, but is largely dependent upon events that transpired during the presidency.
  • For example, LBJ and Vietnam, Nixon and Water Gate, both Bushes and conflict in the Middle East.