“You are reinforcing people’s faith in institutions.”
That’s what President Biden told FEMA workers on Thursday as he made a stop at their headquarters to thank them for their round-the-clock efforts to cope with Hurricane Ian, which continues to menace the southeastern U.S.
For the folks at FEMA, it’s just another day at the office. Helping Americans get through disasters is what they do. But their essential work sends a larger message.
The President told the FEMA team, “Over the last six, eight, 10 years, there’s been a loss of faith in government along the way. It just keeps eroding. Because they wonder whether or not the institutions work.”
It goes back further than that. With the exception of a brief spike in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, a majority of Americans has not expressed trust that the government will “do what is right just about always [or] most of the time” since October 1972 — half a century ago. The number hasn’t topped 25% since 2007, and is just 20% today.
It’s hard to restore faith in government when all people see is sparring and name-calling on Capitol Hill, with elected officials more interested in a sound bite to feed the base than in getting things done. But beyond the marble halls, two million federal employees are working every day to keep America moving forward.
As members of Congress head home today to spend the final month before Election Day meeting with voters, let’s hope they’ll listen to these hard workers on the ground, and learn from their example.