It's a Question of Trust
Scandals, scandals, scandals! Get 'em while they're hot!
The stories are out there. The rapidly rising cost projections for ObamaCare far beyond any promises made to get the bill passed, the Fast and Furious gun running debacle, the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi who died without aid or succor, the IRS targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups, the harassment of journalists at AP and James Rosen of FOX News, and the NSA's massive overreach in collecting data on anyone who uses a phone, texts a message, e-mails his girlfriend, asks Mom for a recipe, or surfs the web. And those constant reports that the next major piece of legislation, the so-called Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, has had more flips and flops than a hyperactive chef at IHOP. These stories are all out there, and they're said to have damaged the government by "eroding" the trust of the American people.
In each of these examples, the government of the United States has told lies to the citizens who hired it, collectively, to do a job. The job description that government employees were supposed to adhere to, and fulfill, is most commonly called the Constitution of the United States. And those who have actually read the Constitution are fully aware that the government is allowed to do only certain things -- and not a single thing beyond that. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments make perfectly clear that there are defined limits to the authority that we have granted to the government.
Unless my copy of the Constitution has been redacted beyond all measure, lying to us is not one of the powers we granted to our federal government back in 1789. Yet it seems that our government is now (paraphrasing an old advertising line used by General Electric) working on the basis that Lying Is Our Most Important Product.
And yet our esteemed leader, Barack Obama, has had the temerity to actually say:
If People can't trust us -- to do our jobs -- then we are going to have a problem here."
And to claim that the trust the average citizen had in his government is "eroding" is just another example of the twisting and distortions that the government is constantly trying to peddle. To erode means a slow wearing away of something that was solid, such as water wearing away at our coastlines as waves hit the shore.
The lengthy menu of scandals currently being covered (or ignored, depending on the media outlet) is not really showing anything eroding, unless you want to define a tsunami wiping out your four-year-old's sand castle in 0.01 seconds erosion.
The obvious erosion of trust in government began with the rise of the Tea Parties, the strength of Ron Paul's libertarian message, and the collapse of confidence among both Democrats and Republicans in the members of their own parties in Congress and the Senate. And with each new exposure of corruption, malfeasance, and common garden-variety idiocy, the confidence that Americans have in the people they've hired weakens. In fact, a recent Rasmussen poll indicates that only one in ten Americans has any faith at all in Congress. To be fair, though, Democrats express a slightly higher percentage of support for Congress -- 12%. Even that is nothing to brag about.
So trust is gone among most voters, even those who drank a lot of Kool-Aid. And once trust is gone, no amount of speeches, promises, grandiose plans for having a debate or a national conversation about the "issues," or trying to change the subject is going to change the general feeling that is now even obvious to our president -- we don't trust you!
I was lucky enough to have an older gentleman become a sort of mentor to me when I started working, and he made an observation that has stayed with me for the last forty years. He was commenting on the lack of professionalism and the poor performance of a large group of second-tier managers in an organization when he said, "Remember, first-rate people hire first-rate people. Second-rate people hire third-rate people. The guy in charge here is definitely second-rate, even on a good day." Looking at his selections for staff at all levels, our president will have to do some major shifting of responsibility and accept a lot of resignations to work his way up to that second-rate classification.
The Administration has tried distraction, but honestly, does anyone think that exposing a new scandal is really going to help? The people in the administration have tried to insinuate that they are not really crooks -- just poorly organized. So incompetence is now a defense? A defense for the guy who we were told is the smartest person in the room?
Trust, like respect, is never given. Trust can only be earned. Once that trust is betrayed, it takes a whole lot longer to rebuild after betrayal that it took to build it in the first place. When a people don't trust their government, resistance to government mandates begins to grow. We all know that the government is inefficient, but we used to trust that everyone was paying for that inefficiency equally. When the illusion of equality is pierced, and trust is destroyed, whom do the ordinary people turn to? The answer to that question won't be the government. Not the government that exists today.
This situation creates a unique opportunity for demagogues to rattle on about how they can cure all our ills if we just "trust" them. Obama himself has tried to sell that idea, and his approval ratings are tanking, but there are always others waiting in the wings.
So the key answer to the question "Whom can we trust?" is a simple, two-word response: no one. Keep that answer in the forefront, and try to convince the rest of your community that blind trust got us into this, but more won't get us out.
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran, and an independent voter. Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.