Do you trust your government?
The FBI announces that an explosive device has been planted in your neighborhood. Do you
a) get the hell out of Dodge, or
b) wonder which scandal the government is trying to distract us from this time, and get on with your life.
The FDA announces that the new low price generic medicine you just bought has dangerous impurities. Do you
a) dispose of the medication, or
b) wonder which pharmaceudical company got to them this time, and keep the medicine.
A government cannot function properly without trust. It cannot react promptly or properly, and it cannot do its job.
Trust is a two way street. The people must trust their government, and the government must be trustworthy. All the people, not just members of the ruling party. All the government, not just the senior staff.
How long has it been since the nation trusted its governors? Since anyone trusted their President? I think JFK was the last - and if he hadn't died, the Mob and Marilyn scandals might have toppled him, too.
A news agency is based on trust. We the people can't speak to the confidential sources, we can't fly out to Pakistan or Baton Rouge and verify the latest story. We accept what you say on trust.
So what are we to think when we catch you making things up?
Whether it's paddling a canoe on TV, mishandling a faked document, or writing lies for the Times, lies break our trust. And without trust, you're nothing.
The Small Town Hick relies on trust in his institutions, just like all the other small town hicks. Without trust, how do I decide which action to take? Without trust, who do I vote for?
Without trust, there is no enthusiasm, no extra effort, no volunteering, no confidence. None of the things that make a nation great.
Without trust, there is no nation. No matter what the polls, the blogs, or the bumper stickers say. There are only little pockets of faith, and a large body of pessimism.