This Conservative Thinks America’s Institutions ‘Earned’ Their Distrust
You can’t understand the modern Republican Party without understanding the complete collapse of trust in mainstream institutions that has taken place among its voters over the last half-century.
In 1964, 73 percent of Republicans said they trusted the federal government to do the right thing always or most of the time. Today, that number is down to 9 percent. And it’s not just government. Pew found that only 35 percent of Republicans trust national news and 61 percent think public schools are having a negative effect on the country. Many of the issues animating the modern right — from fights over school curriculums and learning loss to media bias and Covid vaccines — are connected to this deep distrust.
Mary Katharine Ham is a journalist and conservative commentator who has appeared on CNN, Fox News and ABC News. In Katharine Ham’s view, America’s institutions have “earned” her party’s rampant distrust. Across her writings, she has leveled scathing critiques of numerous mainstream institutions, from the media to the C.D.C. and universities, arguing that these institutions have consistently failed to serve ordinary Americans. So this is a conversation that explores Katharine Ham’s critique in order to understand the distrust at the heart of the Republican Party.
“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the Coalition of the Distrustful” by Michelle Goldberg
End of Discussion by Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson
Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
The Right by Matthew Continetti
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This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Kristin Lin. Fact checking by Michelle Harris, with Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld. Our senior editor is Rogé Karma. The show’s production team also includes Emefa Agawu and Rollin Hu. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. And special thanks to Sonia Herrero.