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In Politics, Trust Matters

Posted on Thursday, December 7, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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17 Comments
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trust in white uppercase letters written on a black chalkboard and above it an illuminated light bulb surrounded by words integrity, sincerity, reliability, consistency, commitment an competence .

Trust matters. What if I told you nine qualities matter more to voters than the economy, border, immigration, crime, national security, perhaps even than party? Think me foolish? Maybe, maybe not. 

Trust, accountability, authenticity, integrity, reliability, follow-through, thoughtfulness, patience, and a sense that the person you are voting for has some understanding of the world you live in, the core values you believe as you personally interact with other people, may matter more than we think.

While data is scattered, we know a few things for certain. Trust is low in candidates, elected officials, and government – especially at the federal level. Many Americans feel betrayed, reflexively distrustful.

As a group, we want to trust, but we doubt. We are tired of being lied to, taken for fools, given shaded truths, being deliberately misled, or left in the dark by those who think they are smarter. It all grates.

Accountability is the way you verify trust, how someone upholding your trust shows they are worth it, all in, right there, understand the mission, will not let you down, want you to know they are on the case.

Likewise, authenticity is important – and rightly questioned. Why? Because so much of everything is fake, altered or hard to corroborate, from news and cue cards to artificial intelligence and legislative titles.

People are sick of fake, fakeness, being told what to believe by people as fake as the ideologies and rants they push. People want to know who someone really is, and have a right to know. They want to know what they really believe, how they act when not on camera, service ethic and humility, or just pretend?

Here is an epiphany, just raw: Americans, whether well-educated or less, white collar, blue collar, or (these days) no collar, gig economy, have more common sense than politicians know. They want real.

Integrity? Where do we begin? When we decide to trust someone with our money, a loved one, house, or responsibility, we look for integrity.  We want someone whose word means something, who does what they say they will, who lives by a code, can look you in the eye, speak honestly, and you know it.

That is true when searching for a financial manager, banker, babysitter, caregiver, dogwalker, house sitter, renter, realtor, someone you trust to fulfill a promise, deliver a gift or a letter, send what you paid for, perform a job, or be where they said they would be. How much more, when it is our country?

Reliability? You bet, counts more than anything you can say about jobs, the border, crime, drugs, guns, or anything you read off a card to rile me up, put me down, make me mad, glad, sad, or vote. If what you say is a “pie crust promise,” easily made, easily broken, why do I care? Reliability is your word in action.

Follow-through? Seriously? If you have to ask twice, as Colin Powell would tell you, that is once too many times. Reliability requires follow-through. This is also – for reasons some wise anthropologist will someday tell me – a genetic failing in most politicians. Words are cheap, but people remember, always.

Thoughtfulness. Who do you value most in life? Why? How do you show them you value them, appreciate the trust they vest in you, how they treat you, what they mean to you, who they are, why they count? You are thoughtful, try to be. Leaders care about their people. So do good politicians, a lot.

Patience? The people I appreciate the most are often the ones who tell me, with compassion and respect, that I am wrong. They want me to be right, are pulling for me. They listen when I offer back my views, they absorb them, sometimes even change theirs. Jefferson did for Adams, John did for Abagail.

Finally, with regard to having some understanding of your life and core values, what is more important for a political leader? Hardly anything.

So, yes – the economy, border, immigration, crime, national security, and party matter, as do other issues, but … without a trusted messenger, person of principle, authentic advocate who assumes they owe you accountability, authenticity, integrity, reliability, follow-through, thoughtfulness, patience, what have you? Not much. This is what candidates are missing, and should not. Trust matters.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

 

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PaulE
PaulE
6 months ago

Trust is earned, not simply given. The actions of the individual determine whether trust is warranted or not. In terms of Biden and the members of his administration, as well as the Democrats who sit in Congress, their actions have all shown they do NOT warrant any degree of trust by those Americans amongst us who can actually think and reason. It’s really not a complex issue when you look at things objectively.

Lieutenant Beale
Lieutenant Beale
6 months ago

Trust? (As in trust most of today’s politicians?)
Hahahahaha (deep breath) HAHAHAHAHA !!!!
I trust ‘em about as far as I can throw the rather portly Chris Christie.

Frances
Frances
6 months ago

For me trust and govt. have no place in the same sentence. The govt. has lied so much as do politicians that any tiny bit of trust that was ever there has been totally destroyed. Worst part is every day we are slammed with even more lies from the govt. They don’t want our trust, what those in govt. want is to control we the people instead of we the people controlling them as it should be.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
6 months ago

Sure enough Robert trust is the lumber needed to build the house, or whatever it is that requires lumber for it’s construction. The qualities that make for good character , trust could be included or it could be looked at as a result of the interaction between other good character qualities. For example, if someone has good character established and they are able to help others, such as people with disabilities , then doing that could be said to be a betterment of their original good character qualities. A comparison with preparation for a storm, like a hurricane for example – ( have been through a few of those ) to have the necessary supplies of water , food , first aid material, tools ,clothes , etc., for three or four days , that would be fine for most storm preparation needs , however if it became possible to add to the supply of emergency items then it would be the right thing to do. To be prepared for a longer period of time would be the sensible thing to do. So, the circumstances can vary , how the trust is established. The political perspective involving trust – this article makes it clear how important it is and why. Well done with this article ! With respect.
.

Dave Opalka
Dave Opalka
6 months ago

Robert Charles is brilliant! He brings truth to bear in every article that he writes. You get the message in down-to-earth, understandable language. It’s no wonder so many people are dispirited when so few politicians meet the criteria that Robert laid out. Thank you. I agree with every word in your article.

SusanW
SusanW
6 months ago

YES, trust does matter! Trust has to be earned, though. As an educator I had to earn the trust of each of my students. They had to see that I was who I said I was, modeled integrity, thoughtfulness and most importantly, my reliability and empathy. Too many people in their lives couldn’t do that. Everyday Americans feel the same way. Prove to us that you love and care for our country and its people more than you care about your political power. Not many can convince us of that statement. I dare them to walk a week in our shoes. We desperately need a “trusted messenger, person of principle, authentic advocate who assumes they owe you accountability, authenticity, integrity, reliability, follow-through…” Who might he or she be? Who would Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan applaud and embrace? Thank you, Bobby!

Melinda
Melinda
6 months ago

All the good character qualities listed are not just important, but essential. How to assess them in a person is difficult, especially in a politician who tries to cover up his true person. Reporting helps, but is unreliable. Biden has given us enough time to assess by his actions, as has Trump. But most people don’t seem to be able to judge character. They rather trust a winning smile and glib words, the mark of a con man.

Myrna
Myrna
6 months ago

Robert Charles you nailed it. Credibility is everything.

anna hubert
anna hubert
6 months ago

All the qualities listed are missing today There can’t be trust without the integrity and character

Gabe Hanzeli kent wa
Gabe Hanzeli kent wa
6 months ago

Democrats have no trust. even their supporters know the democrats are criminal.

Weck
Weck
6 months ago

Do all fairy tales start, “Once upon a time…”. No, a lot of them start, I’m running for Congress and I will…”

Michael
Michael
6 months ago

What comes to my mind when you pair the words “Trust” with “Government” is the definition of an “Oxymoron” Its has as much validity as hearing” I’m from the government! I have viable solutions and I’m here to help!

Jane
Jane
6 months ago

Itis so sad that the trust we instilled in our government. As days go by, you see more and more of our political leaders going into politics to get rich. While the working men and women can’t pay for groceries. So damn sad.

Nanc
Nanc
6 months ago

So true, to bad Mr Trump doesn’t have more of these qualities.

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