In 1958, more than three-quarters of Americans trusted their government all or most of the time. Today, only 19 percent do, and more than half believe that “ordinary” people could do a better job of fixing the nation’s problems than its current crop of elected officials.

The troubling new data from the Pew Research Center help to explain the popularity of Republican presidential candidates who have never held office, such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson. The report also shows that Americans in both political parties remain sharply and predictably divided but share common ground in their disdain for the status quo. In interviews with more than 6,000 Americans between Aug. 27 and Oct. 4, Pew found deep discontent in elected officials and the machinations of government, with 74 percent of respondents saying elected officials put personal interests ahead of the nation’s and nearly 60 percent believing their government needs “very major reform.”

Americans don’t hate everything about government. A majority of people in both parties gave high marks to the Pentagon, the FBI, the Social Security Administration and even the Postal Service. A sizable majority said the government is doing a good job of protecting the nation from terrorism, responding to natural disasters and keeping food and medicine safe.

A pronounced and sustained distrust of government and its elected officials should do more than worry Americans and their leaders. It should effect change. But nothing too major, please, because Americans think the government, in some key areas, is doing an acceptable job.