I recently developed a poll in Facebook whereby I was curious how Americans generally felt about their government officials, specifically how much they trusted them. To this end, the question was simply:
"For U.S. citizens only. In terms of your government officials (including Federal, State, and Local), how much do you TRUST your government?"
66 people participated in the poll, not exactly a landslide in terms of people, but still a respectable number. Here are the results:
0 - TOTAL TRUST - government officials have my best interests in mind. Keep everyone in office.
9% (6) - SOMEWHAT TRUST - I tend to believe in my government officials and I will support those I think are doing a good job.
12% (8) - AVERAGE - I am ambivalent. I can go either way depending on circumstances.
52% (34) - SOMEWHAT DISTRUST - I am suspicious of my government and I am inclined to vote out of office those I think are incompetent.
27% (18) - TOTAL DISTRUST - Government officials do not have my best interests in mind, I will vote out all incumbents in the next election.
I guess the results of the poll were to be expected. Even if more people participated in it, I believe the percentages would still be about the same. People today simply do not trust politicians. If we are so dissatisfied though, why do we reelect the same people over and over again? It seems we tolerate their behavior regardless of what they do. It's kind of like thanking someone for mugging us, but with a little more finesse.
I sense a backlash is in the offing though as people become more aware of our growing economic problems, not just the meltdown of 2008, but our growing debt that looks more insurmountable with each passing day. In a way, it reminds me of the 1978 taxpayer revolt in California where the people finally got fed up with escalating property taxes and implemented the legendary "Proposition 13" to limit it (anyone remember Howard Jarvis?). This revolt helped propel Ronald Reagan into the limelight and launch his conservative movement.
From the discontent I am hearing today, I believe a similar groundswell is in the offing, and it will be so large, it will register shock waves on the Richter scale. In the next election, do not be surprised if you see a record number of incumbent officials voted out of office, not just at the federal level, but state and municipal as well.
I remember a time when we openly trusted our government officials, but I think the 1960's changed all of that. When the stock market was clicking along on an upswing and we balanced the federal government's budget, it seemed we were more inclined to overlook the indiscretions of our officials. Today though, as the economy stagnates, it is difficult to be trusting of any government official. I'm just thankful that I am not a politician as I believe people today will be giving a lot of them their walking papers in the next election.
Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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