American Public Troubled by “Deep State”

“Public Troubled by Deep State” is the headline that the Monmouth University Polling Institute tags to its recent poll.

Polling about the term “Deep State” is problematical, because as the polling report says:

Few Americans (13%) are very familiar with the term “Deep State;” another 24% are somewhat familiar, while 63% say they are not familiar with this term.

So the careful pollsters at Monmouth defined the term as follows for their interviewees:

The term Deep State refers to the possible existence of a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy.

Then they asked whether such a group exists.

Monmouth reports the results as follows:

Nearly 3-in-4 (74%) say they believe this type of apparatus exists in Washington. This includes 27% who say it definitely exists and 47% who say it probably exists. Only 1-in-5 say it does not exist (16% probably not and 5% definitely not).

Furthermore, these opinions do not follow a partisan divide.  The report continues:

Belief in the probable existence of a Deep State comes from more than 7-in-10 Americans in each partisan group, although Republicans (31%) and independents (33%) are somewhat more likely than Democrats (19%) to say that the Deep State definitely exists.

This leads the director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, Patrick Murray, to volunteer:

We usually expect opinions on the operation of government to shift depending on which party is in charge. But there’s an ominous feeling by Democrats and Republicans alike that a ‘Deep State’ of unelected operatives are pulling the levers of power.

In addition, there are some significant but not drastic racial and ethnic differences on this question.  Says the Report:

Americans of black, Latino and Asian backgrounds (35%) are more likely than non-Hispanic whites (23%) to say that the Deep State definitely exists.

The report also asked about government surveillance of the citizenry and here again there is widespread concern: Fully 8-in-10 believe that the U.S. government currently monitors or spies on the activities of American citizens, including a majority (53%) who say this activity is widespread and another 29% who say such monitoring happens but is not widespread. Just 14% say this monitoring does not happen at all. There are no substantial partisan differences in these results.

This too causes the director of the Institute to be concerned.  “This is a worrisome finding. The strength of our government relies on public faith in protecting our freedoms, which is not particularly robust. And it’s not a Democratic or Republican issue. These concerns span the political spectrum,” says director Murray.

We can add to the concern about a manipulative unelected apparatus at work in the government the widespread distrust of the press summarized in this recent Gallup/Knight poll:

Today, 66% of Americans say most news media do not do a good job of separating fact from opinion. In 1984, 42% held this view.

Less than half of Americans, 44%, say they can think of a news source that reports the news objectively.

On a multiple-item media trust scale with scores ranging from a low of zero to a high of 100, the average American scores a 37.

This paints a pretty grim picture of trust in both our government and our media.  Perhaps “Deep Media” should be a term added to “Deep State.”  But perhaps it is cause for optimisim.  It seems that people are waking up and thinking for themselves.  That is bad news for the organs of control and propaganda that direct our lives.  And perhaps it is good news for those who try to fight the endless wars we experience and who feel that it is the Deep State that gins them up and the mainstream media that creates the environment for them.  Skepticism is the first step in getting to the truth and escaping domination.

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com. He writes about issues of war, peace and empire, and about health care, for Antiwar.com, Consortium News, Dissident Voice.org and other outlets. Now living in the East Bay, he was until recently Professor of Physiology and Cellular Neuroscience at a Massachusetts Medical School. He can be reached at Read other articles by John V..