Was America at its greatest scientifically when academics made far less money and were politically representative? Not if science output, Nobel prizes and adult science literacy are the measures, because America leads in all categories.
Yet with six figure incomes for faculty and less diversity has come greater distrust. Conservatives, for example, once had the highest trust in science, and now they are near the lowest, along with progressives. The public regularly thinks that anyone who cashes a paycheck is unethical, people don't trust medicine, food or energy science on the left and the right thinks climate scientists are shills.