To my fellow citizens:
Political trust is the lubricant oil that keeps the sprawling and complex engine of democracy running. That means trust in the kind of system we have: a representative …
To my fellow citizens:
Political trust is the lubricant oil that keeps the sprawling and complex engine of democracy running. That means trust in the kind of system we have: a representative democracy where we elect fellow citizens to represent us in political decision-making — from public health and election offices to legislatures and courts, from Wyoming to Washington. It means trust in the institutions of government: a balance of executive, legislative and judicial functions. It means trusting a responsible media staffed by professional journalists to research and share factual information about the processes of our political system because we can’t each be everywhere. And it means trusting our fellow citizens enough to disagree with them without demonizing them.
Unfortunately, over the last half-century, we have allowed to leak away the basic political trust on which the operation of government depends. According to the Pew Trust’s decades of research, in 1958, 73% of Americans expressed trust in government in Washington to do what’s right, but by 2019 only 17% of us did. Over 70% of Americans believe we can’t agree on basic facts, let alone policies; and nearly three-quarters of us can’t tell the difference between facts and opinions.
I’ve studied and taught about government and political change for more than half a century. I’m not exaggerating when I say the check engine light of our democracy is flashing bright red. Putting duct tape over it and pretending we don’t need to oil the engine of representative democracy with enhanced trust in our decision-makers, institutions and processes won’t prevent the engine from seizing up and our democracy from imploding.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take the time to service the engine of democracy and build trust than live through the wreck of a political system that will cost us more in lives and livelihoods than wars, pandemics, and natural disasters combined ever will. Let’s begin by trusting the 2020 election process and those we elected. Remember: we get a chance to vote every two years!
Maggi Maier Murdock