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Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Trust is in the Mail

Trust has always played an important role in American politics. Americans will follow a leader they trust even when the path is difficult and the journey is painful. One of the greatest examples of American trust is the amount of trust patriots put into George Washington. It was trust that kept the ragged Continental Army camped out through a harsh winter in Valley Forge. George Washington led his 11,000 troops to Valley Forge in December of 1777. George Washington himself commented on the dire state of his army, saying “…you might have tracked the army from White Marsh to Valley Forge by the blood of their feet”. By June of 1778, 2,500 had died of disease and cold – they did not desert – indeed, you might say they died because of their trust in their leader.

And George Washington kept that trust. After six years at the helm of a brutal fight for independence George Washington emerged victorious. He was offered kingship of the new nation, and turned it down. He served two terms as the country’s first president and then retired, setting the precedent for presidential term limits. There are examples throughout history of such leaders, worthy of the nation’s trust. Trust in President Lincoln led to re-unification, trust in General Eisenhower led the troops onto the shores of Normandy, and trust in Martin Luther King led marchers to bear brutality in the name of justice.

Trust can also be lost – President Johnson was precluded from pursuing a second term because people did not trust in his stewardship of Vietnam; President Nixon resigned, on the verge of impeachment, because people could no longer trust him; President Clinton lost the trust of the people when he perjured himself in front of a Grand Jury.

But, in order for trust to be lost – for people to understand that a leader should not be followed – they must constantly question and reassess the trust they have placed with their leader.

This is not some unique or taxing process for people to undergo, an example shows that we use it every day:

Trusting Person: “So, Honey, do you want to go out on Saturday night?”

Significant Other: “Oh, I’d love to, but I was going to meet some friends for dinner that night – lets do something on Sunday”

Trusting Person: Ok, sure – see you after work!

---next Monday---

Trusting Person: Thinking to themselves, ‘Damn, guess they forgot about hanging out on Sunday night’.

Saying out loud, “Honey, you sure seem to be working late all the time…”

Significant Other: “Yeah, well my boss is riding my ass at work…and we have a deadline for a big project coming up”

Trusting Person: “Hey, you want to hang out this Friday? I guess you forgot about hanging out on Sunday…”

Significant Other: “Oh, yeah, something came up on Sunday…sorry…but, I don’t think we should do anything Friday night – I’ll probably be working late”

Annoyed Person: “Oh, ok…see you later…”

---next Saturday---

Friend: “Hey, what’s up…I was looking for you at the club last night, couldn’t find you…”

Annoyed Person: “I wasn’t out last night…”

Friend: “Really? I saw Significant Other there and I figured you’d be there too. Hey, gotta go, talk to you later!”

Suspicious Person: “WTF?!?”


Suspicious Person: “So, Honey, want to go to the movies tonight?”

Significant Other: “Not tonight, I’m trying to rest up, I’m going to have a rough week at work…I was working late on Friday and had to bring home some work to do on Saturday…hey, we’ll get dinner on Thursday or Friday…”

Non-Trusting Person: Thinking to themselves, ‘God damn, I knew something was going on. You don’t have to hit me over the head with a rubber mallet for me to know that when someone lies to you once you shouldn’t believe anything else they say. This relationship is finished! ’

Saying out loud, “Yeah…sure…whatever”

See how easy and intuitive that is? The Bloogeyman knows that all of us use this every day. One hour meeting at work? Yeah right. The check is in the mail? Hah, I’m not going to fall for that! No extra charges after I sign up? I’m not that dumb! You want to touch me where?

But for some reason we have utterly lost that intuition when dealing with national politics. It’s like we’re so used to being lied to by politicians that it’s just not a big deal anymore. Its just part of the background noise now…and journalists are content to ignore and not investigate any of it. Here are some quotes from several of our “significant others”:

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”

Dick Cheney August 26, 2002

“Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities
that were used for the production of biological weapons”

George W. Bush, Sep. 12, 2002

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments
leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

George Bush March 18, 2003

“We know where they [WMD] are. They are in the area
around Tikrit and Baghdad."

Donald Rumsfeld March 30, 2003

I'm starting to get a little suspicious, but I'm sure they were just working late that night...