Mario Loyola offers National Review Online readers a history lesson as he ponders potential pitfalls in the current course of the American constitutional system.

To understand why the GOP working-class voter has lost faith in the GOP elites, one must understand why Americans have lost trust in government generally. Prolonged wars are clearly partly to blame but can explain only a small part of it.

I would posit the following explanation: The progressive scheme of government insinuates the federal government into too many things that government can’t do well. As catalogued with excruciating detail in Peter H. Schuck’s Why Government Fails So Often, when government attempts to regulate everything, it fails at most things, and people can see it. Worse, in its zeal to serve certain special interests, the progressive scheme of government hands power over to special interests of all kinds. The public interest loses at every turn, and the people can see that, too.

Americans began losing faith in their government precisely when the Great Society programs launched in the 1960s. Today, that loss of trust is virtually complete, a long-term consequence of the New Deal and the progressive movement that produced it. It’s no accident that for the typical American worker, real income has not risen since the 1960s. Correlation is not causation, of course, but the result was predictable.

The New Deal remains important today because it changed the essential character of American democracy — very much for the worse. It did so by dismantling some of the most essential protections of the Constitution and replacing them with a version of majority rule that left well-organized special interests firmly in control of the government. In the process, some of the Constitution’s most vital protections from tyranny — protections upon which the well-being and freedom of American workers vitally depend — were lost.