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Do You Trust Our Elected Leaders?

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on January 28, 2014 in Washington, DC. In his fifth State of the Union address, Obama is expected to emphasize on healthcare, economic fairness and new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy with bipartisan cooperation. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla
Collection: Getty Images News)

According to a recent CNN poll 53 percent of the people polled don’t believe the President of the United States is trustworthy. Those who trust Congress are in single digits in some polls. When did the political process derail? Have we passed the point of no return? Is it possible for Congress, and the current or future presidents, to regain the trust of the American people?

When Did The Downhill Slide Begin?

Growing up in America in the fifties and sixties was a turbulent time. America was far from perfect. Times were simpler but there was still poverty and racial discrimination was very prevalent. The youth of America were beginning to question the authority of those they had respected without question just a decade earlier.

The “Hippie Movement,” “Anti-War Movement,” and “Women’s Movement” sent young people to the streets with signs and slogans. If it was perceived in the minds of those under thirty as unfair or unjust they were all too willing to demonstrate against it.

Women burned their bras while men burned their draft cards. The “establishment” was the new enemy of the future leaders of tomorrow. “Don’t trust anyone over thirty,” became their new battle cry.

The War in Your Living Room

The Vietnam War was the first war that could be watched from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy recliner along with Bob Hope and Dean Martin. You could watch American heroes trying to turn back the threat of communism on one channel then flip to American’s in the streets protesting those same heroes.

Gulf Wars I &II followed, than 9/11, and we slowly began to ask why? Why Iraq and Afghanistan? Who really attacked us? Are these attacks acts of war?

The “Great Society”

In the mid sixties President Lyndon Johnson introduced the “Great Society.” Sort of a re-named “New Deal,” similar to FDR’s post WW II rollout of poverty ending programs. Over the next forty years the Great Society Programs became the “Great Entitlements Programs.” Politician’s found that by pitting the “haves” against the “have not’s” they could buy the votes of the masses who put personal greed for free stuff ahead of personal responsibility. Government entitlements made it almost as profitable not to work.

24/7 News

As entitlements gained speed, along came the perfect delivery system for the divisive message — cable news. CEO’s made millions while single mom’s and seniors slipped below the poverty lines and cable news was there to cover it all. And politicians were also there to provide their cherry picked sound bites with just enough accuracy to discourage fact checking yet agitate their loyal followers to show up at the polls. Disagree with the status quo and you will be personally attacked and discredited.

Enter The Bloggers

As it turned out, there were some fact checkers out there. Dan Rather found this out when he tried to discredit George Bush’s military service with some documents that were not accurate. Who blew the whistle? A blogger who happened to notice the similarity in text between the bogus documents and the text of the Microsoft Word Processing program that was unavailable when Bush was in military service.

More bloggers starting coming forward and questioning the facts and numbers those politicians were putting out. More and more of what politicians were spouting as facts turned out to be contrived spin. And people began to pay attention and to question.

Some Final Thoughts

I remember my parents telling me that honesty is the best policy. Have I always adhered to that policy, — not always I’m sad to say. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try. But there again I’m not being entrusted with making the laws society needs to function freely.

Trust is earned, not passed out like candy, and once lost it’s very hard to regain. We expect our leaders to speak for us and to be honest and ethical in all their dealings both public and private.

As sad as it might be we, as voters, are going to have to practice due diligence and keep a closer eye on those we elect. The next crops of nominees are going to have a harder time gaining and keeping our respect and trust because we are going to question their motives and intentions with more scrutiny. Which leaders are on your “good list?”

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