First, I know governmental mistrust has always been in the background radiation of American society since its inception.
That said, I feel like I’m missing something in the timeline from the Great Depression to Reagan. I’m asking this very genuinely and very much want to know because I wasn’t alive during this time and wasn’t a part of the cultural zeitgeist of Reagan.
What I see from my vantage point is government work programs under FDR (likely) saved us and completely saved people’s lives across America. If that wasn’t enough, government GI programs in post-war America allowed for incredible opportunity for many Americans. Then the governmental programs from both LBJ and Nixon GREATLY expand civil rights in all aspects and create a system for environmental regulation so poison isn’t going straight into the waterways.
I want to emphasize that both sides that both Nixon and Johnson, on opposite sides ideologically (I’m talking in broad strokes here), expanded executive power to do this.
Then Ford and Carter come through…Carter struggles immensely with stagflation. Everyone hates his guts.
Then Reagan has this HUGE groundswell of popular support that continues to this day in many people. He rails against welfare queens. He jokes that, “The scariest sentence someone can hear is, ‘Hello I’m from the government and I’m here to help’”
So where’s the rift there? I know government mistrust has always existed in some way or another, but the jump from post-war society where GI help from the government to jobs to worker protection were very much in vogue…with that in mind, this an anti-government stance seemed to happen VERY quickly. Was it largely just an anti-Carter sentiment?
I guess my main question is how the charge of, “The government sucks, bureaucracy can’t run anything right,” isn’t answered by, “Yea, but they provide this protection, gave my dad a job, and gave me a college education.”