Despite the billions of words spewing from every political camp, it’s all pretty simple. To use an old song title (apologies to Billy Joel), it’s “a matter of trust.” Voters hear all of the claims by candidates, pundits, and media; know that most of them are lies, distortions, or empty promises; and decide to trust and vote for one.
When polled about which candidate values are most important, many people select “leadership.” But leadership can’t survive without trust. President Obama provides a perfect example. When we voted for him in 2008, he seemed to be the most compelling speaker and natural leader since JFK. He maintained that high public standing until he lied to us about Obamacare. The Washington Post awarded him four “Pinocchios,” the dubious award for the most mendacious lies. And they identified his lie as “the worst of the year.” This incident caused people to “fact check” the President, and a few more statements couldn’t pass muster. Polls indicate that more than half of the country stopped trusting him. And without trust, he couldn’t effectively lead the country.
Incredibly, the GOP and Dems are both likely to nominate candidates that have already earned many more Pinocchios than the President. A public majority will never trust either of them. Few voters will believe that Clinton or Trump can lead the military to defeat ISIS; protect the Homeland from terrorists; manage the illegal immigration problem; resolve the healthcare mess, or halt the growth of the National Debt. Any of the new President’s proposals can be easily swatted down by Congress because neither candidate will have full public support if elected as President.
Recently a friend of mine was so frustrated with politicians, that he said, “I wouldn’t trust that one to care for my goldfish.” To be fair, we could ask that question about any candidate, and predict a series of responses.
Question: “Would you trust Hillary Clinton to care for your goldfish?”
Democrats: “Secretary Clinton is fighting for all of us, including oppressed goldfishes.”
Republicans: “Absolutely not. She was responsible for protecting goldfishes in Lybia. Then she lied and said a terrible video caused their deaths.”
Independents: “Maybe I’d trust her to care for my goldfish, but I’d have to have a Nanny-Cam watching her.”
Media headline: “GOP claims of Hillary killing goldfish proved false.”
Of course, the real question is, “Why does there have to be a question?” The reason voters question her is that she has frequently lied to the public. Most recently, she has changed her story several times, regarding using an illegal private email server to handle classified material. Though she boasts of enduring eleven hours of congressional testimony and evading admission of guilt over Benghazi, there was clear evidence that she emailed her daughter that the event was a terrorist attack, while publicly claiming that it was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video. On another occasion, the former Secretary of State invented an exciting story of arriving in Bosnia and undergoing sniper fire. Media video of the event showed that her story was entirely fictitious. And the preceding examples represent only a small sample.
He’s 100 percent entertainer and constantly spews random train-of-thought remarks that are free of fact or substance. When later confronted with his own words, he responds in either of two ways. He often claims “I never said that.” When a video shows him using the exact words he has just repudiated, he insists he never said that, or claims that someone has distorted his meaning.
Alternatively, he will later repeat-and-deny the remark in other venues. The Washington Post reportedly gave him four Pinnochios for the same remark, each of eleven times he repeated it.
We need to ask ourselves, “How did we get here.” The two parties originally offered a total of twenty-three candidates. Our strange system of state primaries and caucuses—combined with the need for hundreds of millions of dollars to sustain campaigns—winnowed the GOP and DEMs down to a total of seven. And the two parties will almost surely bring us down to the two most ethically flawed of the group—Clinton vs. Trump.
Are we nearing a point where American voters revolt and demand reform of the process? Let’s hope so. We desperately need leadership. It’s ‘a matter of trust.’
My book “The Victory that Wasn’t” offers a fictional alternate history with a different kind of Military, and better outcomes for all Americans. It’s available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1GUL8oX