The chart below is from “Americans Say Civility Has Worsened Under Trump; Trust In Institutions Down” by Jessica Taylor, NPR.org, July 3, 2017.
It would be interesting to have figures for Chester County. It would be a good bet, though, that residents here overall are fairly satisfied with their county and municipal governments, with law enforcement and the courts system.
In this swing county, which had the good taste to give Trump under 43% of its vote (national average: 46%), people remain engaged, as we’ve seen from the profusion of rallies and the number of candidates running for office this year and already lining up for 2018. We go to public meetings (witness the outpouring regarding the proposed pipeline cutting through the County), talk with our elected representatives, and speak at Borough Council and supervisor meetings (the PA Sunshine Act is taken seriously here).
Voter turnout was relatively good in the May primary, and one can hope for a larger than usual vote this coming November. A lot of Americans, last November, found out what happens when they don’t vote!
Civility remains the norm, even in public rallies, and it is heartening to see a targeted elected official emerge on occasion for a (civil) chat with demonstrators.
About the fairness of elections, Chester County is also fortunate, thanks to a lot of local effort several years ago, to have optical scan voting machines whose results can be verified on paper (and that is a very good thing, with 2 recent margins of under 30 votes in the 156th PA House district).
Some current mistrust probably has to do with gerrymandering; if the PA constitutional amendment being promoted by FairDistrictsPA is eventually adopted, that will no doubt increase confidence in the voting system, since majority incumbents will no longer be able to carve up counties to suit themselves and often deprive voters of meaningful choices.
As far as the print media, we are pretty favored: we can readily buy the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Daily Local News and its regional variants, and we can consult local online media like The Times of Chester County and Chester County Press and their variants.
Anyone who consumes news knows that any media article or post must be read with care and evaluated; but we are fortunate not to be exposed here (unless we go farther afield on the internet) to the kinds of willful false news that probably contribute to Americans’ mistrust of their own institutions.
Nationally, not so good, and it’s surprising to find media rated even below Congress and Trump: