Political Trust & Distrust 22

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Generalized social trust is a belief that most people can be trusted to do something in our interest.  Widespread generalized social trust makes everything about governance easier.1 Countries where people are satisfied with their democracies tend to have relatively high levels of generalized trust.2 Why? Collaborating or compromising on legislation is easier when lawmakers and citizens share a high level of generalized trust. Similarly, it is easier for citizens with generalized social trust to discuss politics without worrying about being labeled as an enemy or traitor over a disagreement. Instead, politics becomes less polarized and more like a productive competition of ideas. 

“We want to fight, and I want to fight, but we will be respectful … That doesn’t mean you have to reduce your ferocity. It’s just got to be respectful.”
Senator John McCain

1. The Oxford Handbook of Social and Political Trust, p. 37, p. 49, and p. 84.

2. Zmerli, S., & Newton, K. (2008). Social trust and attitudes toward democracy.

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Excepted from Political Trust & Distrust, Part 2 of 2.

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