The Public Interest

Leadership and the “Confidence Gap”

James Piereson

Fall 1984

IT HAS NOW been more than five years since Jimmy Carter warned the American people of “a crisis of confidence” that, he said, “strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of the national will.” He pointed to a growing gap between the people and their government, and to a growing disrespect for government, schools, churches, and the news media. This new mood posed “a fundamental threat” to American democracy, and impaired his own capacity to lead the nation.

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