Citizens, especially in the United States, treat government like a fair minded benevolent parent. President’s and elected representatives are imagined to be working tirelessly to promote their constituent’s principles.
It is not surprising that folks have this distorted image in their minds of what government really does. All through school, the benevolence of government is never questioned. In school, cooperation is presented as normal. Children work in groups. Competition is discouraged. All adults are defined as there to help them.
In practice, all persons who approach government out of self interest. Those elected and the voters are all motivated by self interest. Your senator or congress is there to get what he can for himself. Your president is not there to help you. Your president is there to help himself. Legislation is not passed for the benefit of the country. Legislation is passed for the benefit of those who have the money and power to influence elected officials.
An economic crisis is coming. What ordinary people do as a result will be critical. Unless people very quickly understand what government is used for, we are likely to come out worse off than ever after the crisis runs its course. It is a huge handicap to enter a period of severe stress and have people acting on the basis that government is benevolent and has magical powers. The reality gap we face is huge.