Once gone, trust is difficult to build | COMMENTARY

“… so few people trust [Trump], how can he govern effectively over the next four years?”

How important is trust to you?

It is very important to me. At one point in my life, I discovered that a person I trusted completely had lied to me. Once trust is lost, it is very difficult to restore.

When boundaries are breached by lies, we have difficulty knowing when the person who lied was telling the truth, and when we were being lied to. It doesn’t matter how big or small the issue, doubts are created about every decision point that arises after that.

During last year’s presidential elections, both candidates accused the other of lying and of being self-serving, using their power to enrich themselves or their organizations.

Why do political candidates, no matter the level of government, accuse their opponents of lying or misrepresenting themselves? The answer comes from the same personal issue I noted above. If a person can be convinced that a candidate is untrustworthy, then the boundaries of that person’s promises are split wide open.

Trust is absolutely essential for government to properly function. Trust is also necessary between opposing political parties. Both parties have to believe that while their opponents have different worldviews, their concern for the good of the nation as a whole is foremost.

Unfortunately, we are living in an era of extreme partisanship. Political parties seem to have taken the tendencies of religious organizations where any deviation from doctrine is viewed as political heresy. Party loyalty has become more important than patriotism and concern for the common good. Any party member who consorts with the “enemy” is punished as being disloyal and therefore is untrustworthy.

A recent, local example came earlier this month where the state senator position of Pam Roach came open due to her election to the Pierce County Council. Since she is Republican, her position was offered to Republicans. One was state Rep. Drew Stokesbary, 31st District, and another was newly-elected state Rep. Phil Fortunato, who replaced retiring Rep. Chris Hurst.

Republicans destroyed Stokesbary’s senatorial candidacy because he had been “disloyal” since he had voted for the Sound Transit bond issue for mass transit, while Fortunato had remained “loyal,” opposing the bond issue. Fortunato was deemed trustworthy by Republican standards because he opposed any tax increases, even if determined by public vote. Unfortunately, such Draconian behavior diminished even further my trust of the Republicans.

Trust has also been an issue with the potential rollback of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare). The issue itself is not my concern here; the issue with trust comes with our new president. His representative promised that a new healthcare program could be passed that was better and cheaper than Obamacare. Cheaper for whom — the state or the federal government? Also, if such a plan exists, why wasn’t it discussed during the presidential campaign?

Both presidential candidates lied, but Donald Trump lied on a far larger scale. His public approval rating, sitting at 43 percent, attests to that deep lack of trust.

How can any new president overcome that level of distrust engendered by the recent political campaign and by his own contradictory and inflammatory words? I have hopes that I am wrong, and that President Trump will do a hat trick, transforming himself from the caricature of a self-serving narcissist to a thoughtful, self-controlled statesman. I wish our new president all the best as he sets out to serve this great nation, but there is this sense of foreboding deep in the pit of my stomach.

Part of my concern goes back to the betrayal I endured in my own life. Trust, once lost, is very difficult to restore. The problem our president has is that since so few people trust him, how can he govern effectively over the next four years?

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