Trust Me

One of the approximately ten zillion critical tasks facing President Biden is the need to restore Americans’ trust in the integrity of their government. Biden is well-equipped to begin that restoration–he is a thoroughly decent and trustworthy man–but it won’t be easy.

Time Magazine recently began an article with some very concerning data:

After an unprecedented year of global pain, loss and uncertainty, a new report finds that 2020 marked “an epidemic of misinformation and widespread mistrust of societal institutions and leaders around the world.”

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, a study published annually by global communications firm Edelman, unveiled its findings on Wednesday after conducting more than 33,000 online surveys in 28 countries between October and November 2020. The firm found that public trust had eroded even further in social institutions—which Edelman defines as government, business, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and media—from 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, global outcry against racial injustice and growing mistrust of what political leaders say and journalists report.

The research found that most people trust businesses– especially their own employers– over government and media. Trust in journalists is split along party lines. Among the consequences of this pervasive distrust is a particularly worrisome one:  only 1 in 3 people are “ready to take the [COVID-19] vaccine as soon as possible.”

Social trust is an essential and irreplaceable basis of a democratic society. Social capital–the bonding and bridging connections to others that make a society work–is defined as a combination of trust and reciprocity.

Social scientists warn that erosion of interpersonal trust has very negative implications for democratic self-government. When I was researching my 2009 book Distrust, American Style, that erosion was already visible. Some scholars suggested that the country’s growing diversity had led to a loss of the cohesion achievable in more homogeneous societies; my research suggested a different culprit. I became absolutely convinced that generalized social trust requires reliably trustworthy social and governing institutions.

In other words, fish rot from the head.

As I argued in that book, the nature of the trust we need is justifiable confidence in the integrity of government and civil society writ large. That confidence was being steadily undermined–not just by what seemed to be daily scandals in business (Enron, Worldcom, et al), sports (doping, dog fighting), religion (revelations about the Catholic Church’s inadequate response to child molestation), and the George W. Bush government (duplicities which seem almost innocent in contrast to the past four years)–but especially  by the Internet.

Suddenly, Americans were marinating in information. Publicity about each scandal and details about a seemingly pervasive lack of trustworthiness was impossible to avoid.

It has gotten considerably worse since 2009. Now we are swimming in a vast sea of information, disinformation, propaganda and conspiracy theories–and as a consequence, trust has continued its sharp decline.

The problem is, without widespread social trust, societies are impossible to maintain.

Think about our daily lives: we deposit our paychecks and trust that the amount will be reflected on our next bank statement. We put a deposit down with the local electric utility and trust that service will be forthcoming. We call the fire department and anticipate their speedy arrival. We drop our clothing off at the cleaners and trust it will be there, cleaned, to pick up. We buy goods online and trust they’ll arrive. We buy meat at the grocery and trust that it has been inspected and is fit to eat. We board an airplane and trust that it has passed a safety inspection and will travel in its assigned air lane..

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. And that picture is much broader–and social trust much more critical– than most of us realize.

An article in The Week had a relevant factoid: evidently, Twitter’s permanent ban of Trump has already made a huge difference. “One research firm found the amount of misinformation online dropped 73 percent in the week after the president and 70,000 QAnon aficionados were shut down by the platform.”

So–the solution to our trust deficit is obvious and simple (cough, cough); we just have to make government visibly trustworthy again, enforce regulations on the businesses and other institutions that are flouting rules with impunity, and figure out how to get online platforms to disallow misinformation and propaganda, without doing violence to the First Amendment.

Piece of cake!

I think I’m going to go pour myself a very stiff drink….


  1. You make some excellent points, Dr. Kennedy. And, like most people, I want to respond upon the topic I personally blame the most – the tossing aside of the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ all those years ago, which allowed lies, lies, and more lies to displace any semblance of truth in most electronic communication.
    NPR has discovered that 1 in 5 persons who were in the mob squad at the Capitol on Jan. 6th served in the military.
    My comment was this:
    “You don’t fill the airwaves with poisonous and traitorous voices and not expect at least some of the listeners and viewers to become poisonous traitors, do you?”
    Because, as is always the case, lies damage everything and everybody, and we must do three things: 1. Accept that fact, 2. Prevent lies from proliferating throughout our entire society, and this would be easiest, 3. to do in the military service by barring liars from being heard on the military airwaves our soldiers and sailors are able to access.
    First amendment? Well, let’s just remember that that was written and attached to the Constitution when the main means of the ‘press’ were newspapers that printed a few hundred copies and were then seen by maybe one thousand readers. And ‘speech’ was done by people who at most, stood up in a meeting (or on the proverbial street corner) and spoke loudly so that and few dozen people could hear them.
    Limits on free speech in regulating TV and radio liars? Absolutely not. I’d call it the limiting of the ‘means’ of free speech to what and how it was defined in its original context. Would Justice Scalia agree? He surely would. He was the man who most strongly supported the heresy of ‘originalism’.

  2. “So–the solution to our trust deficit is obvious and simple (cough, cough); we just have to make government visibly trustworthy again, enforce regulations on the businesses and other institutions that are flouting rules with impunity, and figure out how to get online platforms to disallow misinformation and propaganda, without doing violence to the First Amendment.”

    Apparently, Mitch McConnell and a few other Republicans are arguing over who currently has control of the Senate. They can only argue this fact by continuing to push misinformation and propaganda before the Senate members who supported, and possibly were involved in, Trump’s insurrection on January 6th. Let’s put that issue to a Senate vote before we move any further.

  3. Stephen F Smith,

    Couldn’t agree more with you!

    Enemies of this form of government use 1st and 2nd amendment as bludgeons to cram lies down the throats of his governments citizens!

    Originalism a joke, and it’s impossible to live by a document become so archaic, it’s almost incomprehensible!

    As been set 1 billion times on this blog the past couple of years, how could the founding fathers have foreseen any of the communication networks and technologies that allow instantaneous communication with anyone any time on any part of the globe? I mean, they had daily heralds and soapboxes! Information truly did seem like it was on a slow boat from China.

    This day and age, we tend to give those who are insane too much credence and lenience concerning their freedom of speech rights! We allow them to incite violence, we allow them to promote conspiracies, basically stuff just made up out of their heads so they can make their point more palatable to other insane like minds.

    But, this is what happens when there’s a rush to claim some specific sort of knowledge without it thoroughly being vetted. Society and its guardrails become very weak and lazy.

    And, people pick up and pass along so much untruth or incomplete truths, that it becomes the norm and not the whole truth or the vetted truth.

    An example, we’ve had on this blog, it’s recent threads, individuals that try to claim some of the giants of our early history had ideas that they really did not have! Probably because they’ve read about it somewhere, or somebody that they have an ideological camaraderie with, spews the same drivel! So, their opinion of actual facts, gets disseminated as the actual fact concerning those persons of history and their beliefs!

    David Ignatius writes a wonderful article in the Washington Post, concerning the British and its association in history with the United States and its manipulated historical facts! Just an example, of how people will believe what they hear in their classrooms because the historical information has been scrubbed in a way to stick to a certain narrative!

    When the population is ideologically lazy because it’s easier to go along and get along, then to do your research and dig into the truth! There are tons of examples in science, history, and religion that I could cite, but, no one cares much or will read it anyway.

    A couple of weeks outside of an insurrection, and you already have individuals like Newt Gingrich talking about Democrats looking to eliminate all Republicans! So, instead of letting the fever die down, they’re looking at ginning up new conspiracies that they’ve made up in their own minds to consolidate their own power base! This has to be remedied! If not, this January 6 insurrection will seem like a Saturday in the park!

    Freedom of speech should never be allowed for someone to post and promote lies for any reason! Truth is the greatest disinfectant out there!

  4. The United States of America and its lapdog, the United Kingdom, are torturing the one journalist who used the power of the free press to hold them accountable for war crimes.

    The USA convinced the Ecuadorian president, Lenin Moreno, to sell out the people of the socialist country of Ecuador and violated international law by allowing the UK government to seize Julian Assange from their embassy in London.

    The only journalists I read holding the US government accountable don’t reside in the USA for fear of retaliation. We rank like 45th in international press freedom and that was after 8 years of Obama, a democratic POTUS. Trump only made it worse by criminalizing journalism and placing bounties on our heads.

    Glenn Greenwald, probably one of the top 5 journalists in the world, who co-founded The Intercept, resigned from the agency because the editors in New York got too cozy with the DNC wing. The editors censored their co-founder.

    Bottom line, if our Fourth Estate doesn’t use their powers of the free press to hold the government accountable for wrongdoings, what kind of government are we going to have in place??

    If you want to see what happens to real journalists, check out the Julian Assange case. Read Nils Melzer’s report on the case. Nils is a United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture.

    Nobody in the world trusts the media in the US/UK. We can expand the list to authoritarian countries but we are supposed to resemble a democracy.

    btw, we rank 25th in the world on the Democracy Index.


  5. Short comment today. Agree with Prof Kennedy and all commenters. Would only add that fish may rot from the head but the fish you should be most worried about is in your own kitchens. By that I mean state and local government institutions.

    My county government, run by a GOP monopoly for decades, would appear to have as its motto:

    “Incompetence is not only tolerated. It is required”.

  6. John Sorg: thank you for your post and the link. Fascinating stuff! And knowing full well that propaganda is used by both side in every great conflict, I think we must add one more footnote:
    We must always be able to look ahead at what the logical conclusion of propaganda is.
    I think very few people today would say that Wild Bill Donovan was on the wrong side, or that Joseph Goebbels was cheated out of a rightful victory in WWII.
    And, though we are not at war at this time, we also must analyze people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and answer this question: Who is right on the issue of what purpose ethical journalism must be engaged – truth. Only then can we determine who is working for truth – Alex Jone, Steve Bannon et al. or Rachel Maddow ?

  7. Distrust of government is the strategy employed by business whose wet dream is to take control of taxpayer dollars. It’s called privatization. The Trump Administration was under the control of privatizers who not only sowed distrust in the government but dismantled government. It’s all the product of unregulated capitalism perhaps symbolized best by turning the pandemic response over to private business that was not equipped to deal with national crises.

  8. Dream the dream…when most elected officials become public servants who make decisions on what is best for all, rather than for: their own power or wealth, their Party, their ideology, their contributors, etc. – that’s where “trust” begins.

    Consider how many people from both sides still remember and feel “trust” from John McCain’s “thumbs down” for the Senate not following “proper procedure”.

    It is (and always is) the moment for true servant leaders.

  9. I’m not sure the Fairness Doctrine would work anymore. All you have to do to understand my point is look at the supposed liberals who appear on Faux News. They purport to represent “balance”, but they are there for the purpose off being shouted down, or they lack the mental capacity to argue any point. I wish I had a good suggestion , but the only thing I can come up with is that we need to make sure good government works.

  10. Maybe its my age…but I don’t recall Walter Cronkite or Tom Brokaw or MacNeil/Lehrer seeming to be slanted. Nowadays, for example, PBS nightly seems obviously about being “pc” in both story selection and content and slipping in clear “little p progressive”bias in their interviews. Interestingly, the Weekend PBS news is very objective.

  11. The loss of the Fairness Doctrine, the loss of community daily newspapers, the school voucher program, and Citizens United have combined to do away with our means of sharing common and reliable information.

  12. In the DC Newseum (a nonprofit not among the Smithsonian museums) in 2016 was an exhibit entitled “Best for Press Freedom: Norway.” The exhibit included a photo of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden accepting by video link Norway’s Bjornson Prize for freedom of expression.

    In the same Newseum exhibit in 2019 was the same “Best for Press Freedom: Norway” exhibit, in the same location, but all mention of Edward Snowden had disappeared. Elsewhere in the Newseum, the Newseum had a new exhibit on the FBI.

    In December, 2019, the DC Newseum — a museum that celebrated the Fist Amendment and Press Freedom — closed after 12 years in the same Pennsylvania Avenue location.

    Also in 2019, in a new DC L’Enfant Plaza location, The International Spy Museum opened, displaying a large exhibit of espionage artifacts in a private, non-profit museum setting.

  13. Todd,

    Julian Assange is not a hero, he’s a subversive creep!

    He used his platform to extort a rather lavish lifestyle from those eager fork and conspiracies! He also allowed himself to be used by Russian propagandists with an agenda to dismantle this imperfect Union we call our government!

    Julian assange was not a patriot, because, who was the a patriot for? He wasn’t a freedom fighter, because who was he fighting for? He wasn’t a muckraker, because muckrakers didn’t rake the muck for personal benefit and adulation!

    Julian Assange was a self-serving con artist who was eventually kicked out of the Ecuadorian embassy because of his ignorant and insulting behavior towards the ambassadors and staff there.

    Let’s face it, when the going gets tough the truth about that individual is revealed rather quickly. Julian Assange was weighed in the balance and found lacking!

  14. Stephen F Smith,
    I guess to some this is a bigger conundrum than what it needs to be! One man’s truth is another man’s conspiracy, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist, one man’s love is another man’s hate!

    So, absolutely facts matter! And, when opinions are not based in fact but alternate realities and unsubstantiated opinion, this is a catastrophic breach in the public trust. If falsities and innuendo are always put forth as some sort of proof of fact, the end of society is imminent.

    I love to read, I love to compare histories cycles against each other, and there is a common theme amongst all world powers that have existed throughout man’s history, or man’s recorded history!

    Those powers are not attacked and eliminated from the outside, moral turpitude rots the government’s core values where they bear no semblance to the original truth and moral guidelines.

    The enemy is always from within, those who seek to tear down to gain power, all the while dismantling and destroying the entity that they claim to love!

    by time the enemy within is done disrupting government, the external enemy just walks in through the open door!

  15. RE: the “Fairness Doctrine.”
    For any that might not know. The Federal Communications Commissions’ “Fairness Doctrine,” required licensed over the airwaves public broadcasters to present opposing viewpoints on controversial issues of public interest. It also required broadcasters to give “equal time” to persons who had been publicly attacked and/or opposing political candidates. The Doctrine only applied when the broadcaster wasn’t just (supposedly) presenting the “news.”

    Also of importance is that the Fairness Doctrine was a product of it’s era. It was in effect at a time (1949-87) that all Americans essentially got their broadcast news from the 3 major TV networks, some national radio networks, and in most places 2 or 3 local over the air broadcast TV stations. (Of course, most people also had access to a local newspaper).

    The FCC voted to abolish the opposing viewpoints requirement in 1987 during Reagan’s presidency (Reagan vetoed a bill passed by a Democratic Congress that would made it into a law). Although the Equal Time provisions — that opposing political candidates be given equal airtime — is a law and remains. Many Democrats sought to revive it (apparently it was technically still in the FCC’s rules) in 2011, but Obama opposed doing so, and the FCC offically struck it.

    Even though I agree the Fairness Doctrine might be of some help in combating false news and facts, the Fairness Doctrine applied only to over the air public broadcasters that must be licensed by the FCC to be allowed to use the public airways. There is, more or less, a legal consensus that it would be unconstitutional and a violation of the First Amendment to attempt to impose the Fairness Doctrine — or something similar — to paid services such as cable news, satellite and the internet that the Federal Government has no authority to license.

    Thus, Fox and other cable “news” outlets, and all the other social media companies on the internet where the false information and conspiracy theories are being spread, could not and would not be affected by a revival of the Fairness Doctrine. So restoring the Fairness Doctrine would, unfortunately, not help much to curb the dissemination of fake news.

  16. Trust me the USA since the 19th Century has had a long, long history of talking about Democracy, etc., but looking out for the 1% and Corporate interests.

    Two time Medal of Honor recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler. Quotes, “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

    I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.

    I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912.
    I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.”

    What General Butler spoke about was not taught in our History Classes.

    In more recent times Bush the Younger and his Neo-Cons, wanted a War with Iraq so the “intelligence” had to be manipulated to justify it. Thus, the threat of WMD’s, was created. Our “values” became so degraded torture was even considered permissible.

  17. John,

    I’ll avoid using profanity on this blog, so let’s just say your “know it all” attitude at times is annoying. You may want to stick with quoting biblical scripture which is something you do know about. 😉

  18. The most successful corporation that I worked for over my career was in Switzerland and was managed by my boss who personified the adage, never promise what you can’t deliver, always deliver what you promise. Given the complexity and sophistication of their product line and the fact that their international cadre of customers always wanted more than they wished to pay for delivered quicker than possible being trustworthy was challenging.

    There is a simpler way to express his direction and that is, don’t lie.

    Trust is another simple concept. Surround yourself with others who don’t lie.

    That is the most relevant difference between Trump and Biden, Trump has no regard whatsoever for the truth and Biden honors it in every way as my old Swiss boss did.

    Biden is building a team of experienced, competent and trustworthy people. Those attributes are the best that can be done but we have to be good customers of them and expect to pay what their product is worth and be patient over the time it will take to deliver it.

  19. I’m old enough to remember when people got their information from one of three networks, or their daily newspaper. That was pretty much it. When cable TV came in, as well as the internet, the sources of information increased exponentially. I thought the development would have a democratization effect and that people, with more places to go for information, would be better informed. I would like to think that has been true with regard to yours truly. When I want to learn more about an issue, I consult numerous sources, but I am as very aware of considering how credible the source is. I also look to see if other credible sources have independently confirmed the information.

    Maybe I am that way because of the attorney in me. But what I’ve learned is that many (most?) people don’t take that approach. They seek out information that reinforces their pre-existing beliefs. They also don’t seem able to distinguish between good sources of information and bad sources. If their cousin in New Jersey posts some news bout Hillary Clinton on Facebook, that’s as good as if it appeared in a New York Times article.

    I’m not sure how you fix things. Maybe people will be better consumers of information in the modern digital age. I have to hope.

    I do think they need to repeal Section 230 which protects Twitter, Facebook, etc. for publishing defamatory information. That would cause them to be treated like other publishers of information, and cause more self-policing. Ironically, Trump pushed for the repeal, even though he was the chief beneficiary of the provision.

  20. So, the other day, the Wall Street Journal, owned, now, by Rupert Murdoch, used its 1st amendment rights(?) to publish negative propaganda about the Biden admin. Murdoch, and his companies, have been hugely responsible for spreading misinformation over the last 20 years!!!!!!!!

  21. I think we can all agree you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

    The fairness doctrine may be impossible to apply in today’s world, but places like FOX get most of their revenue from cable companies, and I am forced to get pay for FOX News because I want Showtime or Cinemax from my local cable provider. A law requiring cable companies to offer ala-cart channel choices would make sure I no longer support turds like FOX . It might kill the US sports industry too, but I am willing to chance that for a lower cable bill and less trash delivered to my house.

  22. We don’t solve the problem of poisoned cool aide by quaffing another refill.

    Trust. GRRRR! Trust…there is no such thing as trust, not in the sense that trust is understood to be the initial ante in any potential transaction. If, if trust is anything, it is the most current score — low, or high, or zilch — every party to any transaction has earned in the Incredible Game of Credibility.

    So, I duly note, Sheila, that in the body of your blog you do tell us that you found it true when doing research for your own book — that it is CREDIBILITY, not trust, that must be the initial ante in transactions.

    But nevermind: the point seems lost when all whom you quote, and nearly all who respond in this thread, then immediately rush backwards to begin again the quest to blame people’s missing trust in institutions for all the mistrust in institutions. Like blaming the missing sweetener in my coffee for being the missing sweetener in my coffee. As if the answer to failed credibility among institutions is for people who must transact business with institutions to become even dumber, even more vulnerable, ever more the trusting mark, and just simply trust the institutions more.

    We don’t solve the problem of poisoned cool aide by quaffing another refill.

  23. The quote from Monotonous could have been written by European generals in their colonization of Africa, by the Spanish conquistadors who worked natives to death in the gold and silver mines of Peru, and by other examples in South Africa’s diamond mines as well as our antebellum South’s slave holding plantation owners who produced the cotton necessary for the looms of England’s factories in Leeds and Manchester.

    As usual, I see the loss of social trust through an economic lens, an overview which does not serve propaganda the rich and corporate class uses to cover its avarice well. History (whatever the cover) is a story of how the rich, well connected, technologically advanced have their way over those not so endowed, whatever their color or theological bias. It’s capitalism even if practiced by socialist governments as such rulers (perhaps subtly) manipulate wage scales to maintain dependency of the masses while favoring those who occupy the space between the rulers and laborers – and this has been the case since the Silk Route and East India Tea eras to and through Wall Street. Investment income has always been preferred over labor income, whatever the ism, a rather strange result since without labor there is no income to share.

    Democracy does not prosper in such a controlled setting, so I think that aside from our attempts to instill democracy by statute and counter propaganda as suggested here today that social trust will improve further when we (1) spend more educational dollars on civics and less on STEM, and (2) end wage and wealth inequality by law following the example of the Nordic States – and to the hysteria and cries of communism from the coddled classes who are proponents of the status quo in which they are disproportionally gobbling up the income and wealth OUR economy produces > Your “ism” days are over. We are going to elect new “rulers” worthy of our trust and who trust us to be the good and trusting citizens we can be as we continue our quest for a better and more equitable future grounded in economic as well as political and social democracy.

    We have already improved on the Athenian and Jeffersonian models of democracy in that women and former “slaves” now vote, but except for a brief New Deal period when the Dow and median wage scales rose in tandem, we have failed to fairly and equitably share the wealth and income from OUR economy, an omission we must now rectify – so let’s have at it.

  24. Quick PS on the Fairness Doctrine.

    As I previously posted, the Fairness Doctrine only applied to public broadcasters (over-the-air radio and TV) who used the publicly owned airwaves — radio and TV frequencies, and thus, were required to be licensed by the FCC in order to be allowed the privilege to use and profit from those publicly owned frequencies.

    It was generally agreed that because the frequencies were a publicly owned asset and that they were somewhat finite in the number available in any one locale, the government (FCC) had the right to license and regulate the broadcasters use of those frequencies across the country. Hence, rules such as which broadcasters would be licensed to use the limited number of frequencies available in an area to avoid overlapping and chaos. Which frequencies they could use, how much power they could transmit, etc.

    But many mainstream legal scholars contended even back then that the government had no constitutional right to use those licensing requirements to dictate or mandate the content of what was being broadcast (speech) through the Fairness Doctrine. in fact, the contention that the Fairness Doctrine violated the 1st Amendment was one of the most often cited reasons given for abolishing the Doctrine (perhaps somewhat cynically by some politicians. Who would have thought it?).

    The argument that the Fairness Doctrine violated the 1st Amendment and was unconstitutional is considered by many legal scholars and commentators to be a sound argument, and one that would likely prevail in the courts, if the Doctrine was reimposed today. While there is are sound factual, technical, and legal rationales for allowing the government to license, regulate and control the airwaves, those rationales don’t extend to controlling the content of the speech broadcast over them. Thus, even if it would only be of limited value in helping to deal with fake news today, the likelihood that the Fairness Doctrine will be readopted and withstand a constitutional challenge is not high.

  25. Todd,
    Can I help it if I like to research and read? I think, you should do a little of the same! Instead of crying and complaining, make your case or make your point! you’re saying the same things over and over again, without providing any truth to what you have to say! So, I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you start, and then I’ll chime in! How’s that sound.??

    I know what I know! And I would imagine you know what you know! Now, my area of knowledge might be a little more towards the religious side, and yours might be a little more towards the newsworthy side so to speak, at least in your mind? So, go right ahead and I’ll read what you write.

    At least I provide quotes, links and other evidence to back up my personal beliefs, I don’t just say because I say so! Try it sometime,?!?

  26. Trust is the first thing to leave and the last thing to return. The government AND the media need to give us objective facts. And opinions need to be fact based. I agree that NPR and PBS have become slanted toward the progressive side of politics. At least they interview both conservatives and liberals and ask both sides of the political spectrum challenging questions. I miss the days of Walter Kronkite. Part of our divisiveness is fueled by the fact that people can view multiple media outlets , not just 3 broadcast stations on TV. And then there are outlets like Rush Limbaugh that help radicalize conservatives.

    I can only hope that as Biden leads in creating a truthful, fact based, science based administration that some trust in the feds will increase. The other thing that might help is if Republicans decide not to fuel the lies of the former president. Those who do must receive some sort of consequence from the ethics committees in Congress.

    The Republicans who are supporting the former president’s lies are afraid of his base, afraid of losing their seats in Congress, their power. They lack the courage to stand for what is truthful, for justice, for honor. As such, they have sacrificed their integrity and damaged the integrity of the Republican party. They are not trustworthy.

    Furthermore, if the state governments and federal government want to increase trust we need to have campaign finance reform that has teeth in its enforcement. We need to put an end to politicized gerrymandering. And then ,of course, we need ethical rules around lobbying and special interest groups. Ethical rules that are really enforced.

    Those reforms will take a lot more than a stiff drink. They will require a stiff unbending commitment to ethical integrity. Only then can trust be restored.

  27. Wow, ML, and Gerald!

    Now that’s what I’m talking about you guys! Awesome comment and research work from ML and then, a beautifully crafted addendum to the comment from Gerald!

    That’s what this is about, taking the time to research is valuable and gives a great amount of gravitas to the comments.

    I learned something today from that exchange, and, I will definitely save that exchange for future reference if you don’t mind.

    Bravo bellissima bravo!

  28. “…only 1 in 3 people are “ready to take the [COVID-19] vaccine as soon as possible.”

    Excellent. Nominee for Group Darwin Prize.

    More access for smart people = fewer dumb people.

    Goes for smokers, too.

  29. Another excellent post, Sheila.
    Many great comments as well.
    I will point out a few things –

    First, although there were excellent, documented discourses on America’s poor history in promoting democracy, while extolling it in words – words have power. Looking from 5,000 feet (or 5,000 years) progress exists.

    Which would you rather have, a McConnell or Trump saying “I have the power, F* you”, or an Obama promoting a pro-insurance company, Heritage Foundation (all capitalism all the time) health plan that led to most Americans believing that healthcare is a “right”?

    Of course we did terrible things, but for decades, the belief in democracy and freedom was inspired by our rhetoric. Is that such a bad thing? That doesn’t mean be satisfied, it means try to live up to those ideals – and when we fail, try again and try harder.

    Now, as was noted, times have changed and the Fairness Doctrine might not work so well now. We have choice in what we watch and listen to – overwhelming choice. Everyone knew who Cronkite was, even if they watched a different network (there were only three – four in Detroit, we got Canadian as well). I only watched Dallas once, but everyone understood the “Who shot JR?” question.

    Now, I couldn’t keep up if I wanted to. The number of shows, networks, streaming services, and news networks prohibits anyone from keeping up. There aren’t enough hours. So people pick their silos to live in, MSNBC for some, Fox for others, etc.

    One person has missed our focus again – President Ronald “government is the problem” Reagan. His ideal was that the rich and powerful (individuals or corporations) should make all of the decisions – no unions, no government to oversee our well-being – government is the problem – fire the IRA auditors (I don’t remember the amount, but somebody calculated the probable loss of tax revenue during the Reagan years, unrecoverable after his terms in office – it was huge).

    Let’s start there – every time some arrogant jerk says “government is the problem” or denigrates all civil servants – scream LIAR!

    It probably won’t help but it would make me feel better – I sure wanted to scream some words at Mitch today while he said that precedent should be respected (of course we know he believes that only applies to Democrats keeping precedents he wants).

  30. The increasing lack of trust in political, social cultural institutions is paralleled by a second disturbing trend. The portion of the population that is living hand to mouth has been growing since the 1980’s, and that growth is accelerating. So we have a significant portion of citizenry (1) sees little or no prospect of benefit in maintaining the status quo; is prepared to disbelieve and distrust what they see and hear from those institutions. Doctor Kennedy, I think we need a bigger drink.

Comments are closed.