American State: The Crisis of Trust

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2018-62-5-88-96

A. Borisova (,br Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation;
V. Zhuravleva (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation 

Acknowledgements. The article has been supported by a grant of the Russian Science Foundation. Project no. 151830069 “World Order Crisis: Expert Community Answers”.

Abstract. Why do not American people like their government? What does it mean? How Donald Trump happened to come up on the U.S. political stage, and does it stem from the general discontent of the people? To answer these questions, the authors of the article turn to intellectual origins of the American state, namely to the concepts of individualism, egalitarianism and etatism. Basically, when one says that Americans dislike their government, one means that people are dissatisfied either with the fact that there is too much government in their everyday lives or, vice versa, that their government cannot protect them, and its engagement is not enough. The authors explore prominent works of such thinkers as T. Hobbs, A. Hamilton, J. Madison, J. Jay, T. Pain, etc. to understand why American Founding Fathers have created such a system of checks and balances – to protect the people from the government or to protect the government itself from decay and degradation to the mob rule? How did they come up with the idea of Republic, and could they imagine to which extent the Federal government would broaden its authority only 100 years later? Starting from abolition of slavery, and later, the Great Depression established the course on the Welfare State building, and the Federal Government staff has grown up to three million people, broadening its capabilities by creating new Federal institutes. Since then, the power of the Federal Government has never come to the level the Founding Fathers designed it. Such a trend has spiraled into a situation when a part of the American electorate is always dissatisfied that they have to pay too much of taxes, go to wars, sponsor other countries’ safety programs and help to build democracy abroad, so to say, that the State is regulating too many aspects of their lives, whereas the other part of nation feels not protected enough, first and foremost, economically. During the last 15 years, that dissatisfaction has been growing so dramatically, that American people who brought B. Obama to the White House with great expectations for changes, turned to be disillusioned and chose D. Trump, hoping that a non-politician will be able to break the pattern. People are very tired of the Government which lives torn from the society and its needs, which has turned the sacred election process into a show “with dirty laundry”. The whole “Russian intrusion” hysteria as well as numerous social protests that have been shaking the United States since Trump has come into power, are now aimed at one thing – blocking the normal working process in the Government. And the Democrats who are in charge of all this, together with some Republicans, who cannot bear D. Trump’s leadership style, will sooner or later also face the need to make a compromise with their electorate. Will people accept the new conditions, or will they prefer to get rid of the State itself? It is an open question, because that is how America was designed by the Founding Fathers. 

Keywords: State, USA, standoff between federal government and society, President, individualism, egalitarianism, etatism, Founding Fathers, social state, “limited” state 


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For citation:
Borisova A., Zhuravleva V. American State: The Crisis of Trust. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2018, vol. 62, no. 5, pp. 88-96.

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