Distrust in Ferguson, attitudes toward suicide, and dysfunctional government

    Listen
     Jordan Johnson, left, 8, from Washington, D.C., Camille Chrysostom of Bowie, Md., and Jaimee Swift of Philadelphia observe a moment of silence at Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcom X Park, Thursday in Washington to protest the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Mo. Vigils were held across the country for those organizers say died at the hands of police brutality. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Jordan Johnson, left, 8, from Washington, D.C., Camille Chrysostom of Bowie, Md., and Jaimee Swift of Philadelphia observe a moment of silence at Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcom X Park, Thursday in Washington to protest the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Mo. Vigils were held across the country for those organizers say died at the hands of police brutality. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll, joins NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller to talk about the confidence Americans have in police as an institution, our changing attitudes toward suicide, and the near historic lows on congressional job approval.

    This week, Newport discusses:

    Last week’s shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, has raised again the serious issues of the relationships between police and young black men in America’s cities. Gallup data confirm that in terms of confidence in the police as an institution and in terms of perceptions of the honesty and ethics of police officers, blacks are significantly less positive than whites.

    High-profile suicides such as that of Robin Williams always turn attention back to attitudes toward the taking of one’s own life. Gallup has asked Americans about the moral acceptability of suicide every year since 2001. In May, 19 percent said that it was morally acceptable, the highest in Gallup history, but still very low. About three-quarters still say it is not morally acceptable.

    Congress is officially on vacation, but the public continues to give elected representatives very poor ratings — near the lowest in history — 13 percent for August. Significantly, job approval ratings for Congress have never been as low in a midterm election year as it is now. This does not bode well for the Democrats this fall.

    Americans overwhelmingly think most members of Congress don’t deserve re-election, and near record lows think that even their representative in Congress doesn’t deserve re-election this year.

    A good sign for the economy — fewer Americans mention an economic issue as the most important problem facing the country than at any time since 2007. But economic concerns have been replaced by worries about dysfunctional government and immigration.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.