Most Americans trust the U.S. military to act in the public interest, a feeling that emphatically does not extend to other sectors of American life, such as the media or politicians, a new study finds.
The amount of support for the military is broken down into two categories: “great deal” and “fair amount” of confidence in the military in a new study by Pew Research Center. About 33 percent of Americans place themselves in this first category, while 46 percent adhere to the second, which totals 79 percent, a sizable majority. This figure is consistent with a Pew survey from 2013, which found that 78 percent of Americans believe the military contributes “a lot” to society, though that figure had declined from 84 percent just four years prior to 2013.
This manifest trust in the military even holds across political lines: 88 percent of Republicans, and those leaning to the right, have a fair amount of confidence in the military, compared to 73 percent of Democrats and those leaning to the left.
Older Americans have much higher rates of strong confidence in the military. A total of 41 percent from the age bracket of 65 and older have a great deal of confidence, in contrast to 21 percent of people ages 18-29.
Of the institutions listed by Pew, the military clearly comes out on top, with scientists following shortly behind at 76 percent.
Elected officials rank absolutely last on the chart at 54 percent trust. Only 3 percent of that total fell under the “great deal” of trust category.
Only 5 percent of Americans have a great deal of trust in the media, an institution that took a beating during the 2016 election cycle.
A Gallup poll conducted from June 1-5, 2016, found that 41 percent of Americans trust the military a great deal and 32 percent trust the institution quite a lot, totaling 73 percent, which is not too far behind Pew’s estimate.
High trust levels in the military may open the door for the White House and Congress to abuse that trust, retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevich said in an interview in late September.
“It is nothing short of a scandal that political authorities devote so little attention to examining the wars that we have been involved in,” Bacevich said, according to Public Radio International. “There’s no accountability. There’s no examination of what’s occurred or what’s likely to come next, and there’s no clear understanding of what victory would even look like.”
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