America isn't trusted on the world stage: report

International trust in the United States is at its lowest since the Iraq War era

By Matthew Rozsa
Published January 22, 2018 11:28AM (EST)
 (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Trust in America has sunk to new lows since the rise of President Donald Trump.

The Edelman Trust Barometer, which is run by public relations expert Richard Edelman, found that trust in the United States had fallen to an "Iraq war level of trust," according to Axios. Although the decline in America's image had been in effect for the previous four or five years, Edelman observed, "It doesn't begin with Trump, but it certainly was accelerated."

"It’s the first time we've seen such a trust drop delinked from either a major event, or economic chaos."

By contrast, one of America's chief competitors on the world stage — China, as led by President Xi Jinping — has seen a massive surge in trust for its institutions. Trust in Chinese institutions has risen by 27 percentage points, while that of the United States has fallen by 37 percentage points.

On a granular level, the survey found that trust in the United States among the general population had fallen from a "neutral" level of 52 percent by 2017 to a "distrust" level of 43 percent by 2018. Among members of the informed public, it had fallen from a "trust" level of 68 percent by 2017 to a "distrust" level of 45 percent by 2018. There were crashes in trust levels for virtually every sector of American life, including non-governmental organizations, businesses, government and the media.

There was a definite partisan split in terms of the trust/distrust levels. While Clinton voters were slightly more likely to trust NGOs than Trump voters (54 percent to 47 percent), they were much more likely to trust the media (61 percent to 27 percent) and much less likely to trust businesses (47 percent to 57 percent). Both groups only had 35 percent of their members trust the government, although this constituted a 22 percent drop among the Clinton voters.

While the survey does not include information about reactions to the United States government shutdown, one can imagine that it has not helped the situation. China's official news agency denounced the American government in a commentary piece on Sunday, arguing that the shutdown exposes "chronic flaws" in the political system, according to Reuters.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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America China Donald Trump United States Xi Jinping