The breadth of the social disruption in the United States and around the world leads us away from narrow explanations.
People didn’t drop out of the Methodist Church because of Nixon or the Great Society. Australians didn’t abandon their faith in government because of partisanship in Washington. The Japanese didn’t lose trust because they were watching Rachel Maddow or Fox News.
They withdraw from centralized institutions. They challenge authority. They place greater value on their own self-expression than on representative groups.
As California approached the threshold of the twenty-first century, it seemed to be entering a golden era. Confidence in the economy was at an all-time high, and there were even economists who spoke of a different economy, one for which new rules would have to be written. Yet for the public, there was a dark shadow in that golden glow, something that made Californians less sanguine about the distant future. That something was largely a distrust of government and a lack of confidence that the government could cope with some of the more formidable primary challenges taking shape for the state.