The United States is currently facing a serious ‘crisis of confidence’ in its governing institutions, according to Wall Street Journal columnist Dan Henninger.
The recent testimony of FBI Director Christopher Wray before Congress may have exacerbated the situation, possibly pushing the bureau to a breaking point.
Henninger’s column titled ‘The FBI Loses the Public’ delves into the declining trust that the American people have in institutions such as the FBI, with studies revealing that voter confidence in both the bureau and the DOJ has reached its lowest point.
Citing an NBC poll, the column highlights a staggering 15% drop in the public’s positive perception of the bureau over the past five years. Interestingly, this poll was conducted just before Wray’s contentious hearing before Congress and during a period when GOP lawmakers were calling for his resignation, expressing dissatisfaction with his leadership of the bureau.”
Thirty-seven percent of registered voters surveyed said they have a positive view of the FBI, while 35% said they have a negative view, according to the poll. Among GOP voters, just 17% have a positive view of the FBI, while 56% have a negative view.
“Conservatives no longer trust the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Liberals—or more precisely progressives—no longer trust the local police. We have a problem,” Henninger wrote.
“Confidence in U.S. institutions such as the FBI, Supreme Court and Congress has been on a steady decline since 2017 and is now reaching record lows. More broadly, less than a third of voters trust the federal government – a 20-year low…what’s going on now is different. The U.S. is already amid a crisis of confidence in what we call our governing institutions. That word, governing, is taken for granted, but it took a long time for governing to become a fact of daily life. Consider the opposite of governing elsewhere—mayhem, chaos, anarchy,” he continued.
“We may be inching closer than we imagine to the opposite of governing. Urban crime, mindless and random killings, tent-city homelessness, parents shouting at school boards, and the images of an FBI raid on a former president’s home. Instead of adjusting, many are turning away from the institutions that provide the bedrock of domestic tranquility,” he added.
In a heated House committee hearing earlier this month, Republican lawmakers subjected Wray to intense questioning regarding concerns over the politicization of his agency. They also raised issues about a recent federal court ruling that exposed alleged suppression of conservative free speech in connection with the Hunter Biden laptop story, the origins of COVID-19, and various other topics frequently discussed by Americans on social media.
“FBI Director Christopher Wray can sit before Congress placidly explaining away Republican discomfort with his agency all he wants, but it looks to me as if his organization is in the red zone,” Henninger warned. “Among Republicans, support for the FBI is … 17%. No matter the politics, that’s not good.”
“Institutional disintegration can happen when two sides talk past each other for so long that the original stakes or issues become forgotten. One had the feeling that happened last week between Mr. Wray and his Republican questioners,” he continued.
“He [Wray] wanted to talk about fentanyl gangs, crimes against children and Chinese cybercriminals. And he should. But he seemed utterly uninterested in the concerns conservatives have about the FBI’s involvement in free-speech suppression on social-media platforms, as described in a recent ruling by federal judge Terry Doughty,” the columnist wrote.
Henninger highlighted the mass resignations occurring within the Los Angeles Police Department as a cautionary example for Wray. Numerous officers, disheartened by their treatment from city officials and the anti-police sentiment that surfaced after the tragic killing of George Floyd in 2020, have been resigning in significant numbers, even amid a surge in crime rates and homelessness within the city.
“Mr. Wray may think the FBI is too big and important to go the way of the disintegrating Los Angeles Police Department. Don’t bet on it,” Henninger wrote.