Why did the American people lose confidence in their government in the 1970s?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I might propose an alternative approach to take in answering this question.  I strongly suggest watching the 1976 film,Network.  In it, there is a rant offered by newscaster Howard Beale which is entitled the "I'm as Mad as Hell" rant.  It captures beautifully why the American people were so adrift from their government, why the nation's leaders were ill- equipped to deal with the "malaise" that impacted the American psyche.  In this small speech, Beale talks about the financial crisis hitting the nation, the unemployment, the inflation in costs where a "dollar barely buys a nickel."  He also addresses environmental concerns where "the air is unfit to breathe" and the rise of a criminal setting where "punks run loose in the streets and shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter."  In the news segment leading up to his speech, the discussion was how oil prices were unmanageable to the public, at large.  The overall condition or state of being that Beale narrates is one in which the banality of evil has become so commonplace, a setting where being left alone is seen as virtue, that it reflects how absolutely hopeless American faith in government.  It is to this end, one in which the American public became very convinced that its government lacked the ability to effectively function in such a state of being that the loss of faith and confidence in elected leaders and democratic institutions becomes evident.