Without Trust It’s Hard to Support Anyone’s Policies

Presidents aren’t always free to craft their legacies. George W. Bush didn’t campaign on – or expect to confront – the terrorism of 9/11. Barak Obama didn’t campaign on – or expect to confront – the second greatest financial crisis in American history. So we voters didn’t choose them because of policies to tackle their greatest challenges.

That’s why character and trust are important.
For most of my life, I believed policies were more important. I tried to read politicians’ proposals and study analyses from friends and foes.

Silly me.
One of my favorite books, reviewed here, tried to explain, and as much as I liked that book, I still didn’t get it.

It makes sense to vote based on values.
Does the potential President care about underdog groups? Have a sense of fairness? Who receives their loyalty? Do they inspire respect? Have noble goals? The last election gave me poor choices and a miserable outcome.

I don’t believe Donald Trump actually has any policies – only expediencies to get crowds roaring. The fact that those expediencies are disliked by two thirds of Americans doesn’t seem to bother him.

Trump doesn’t want my support and he’s not going to get it. At this point, it’s hard for me to imagine what he could do to change my mind. Maybe unravel the bellicose standoff on the Korean peninsula, or bring Israel and Palestine into talks that lead to a satisfying conclusion. Really create a roaring economy. Actually provide good healthcare for all. But, based on decades of history, that’s a lot to ask.

A rational opposition opposes the policies of those in power because they expect those policies will, perhaps unintentionally, hurt more people than they help. But that’s not the only reason to “resist” and may not even be a primary motivation.

Studies show that people are willing to punish bullies and tyrants even at high cost to themselves. That means that some of my fellow citizens are willing to see terrible things happen to America on Trump’s watch, just to prove to the nation we made the wrong choices in 2016. I recall seeing the same reaction to Obama’s election. Human beings are weird.

The GOP elite in Congress are worse than Trump because they plan to implement policies that will change the nation – and I don’t trust them. Tax reform, healthcare, infrastructure, immigration – these are all problems that need to be addressed and I don’t know what to do. I need to trust my leadership if I am to follow them.

In the past I’ve felt the Republicans had good – even better – ideas on how to solve national problems than the Democrats. But today I don’t think the GOP wants to solve them. Where their fiscal philosophies have been tried, as in Kansas, Republicans seem blind to negative outcomes – something I’ve accused Democrats of in the past. “Doubling down” makes no sense to me.

So I don’t trust Congress’s motives, which means I’m not likely to support their policies. I can justify my position by, for example, pointing to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis that says millions of people would lose healthcare coverage under the “mean” GOP bills – so different from the good, cheap, healthcare-for-all Trump promised. Congress seems to feel no need to implement his promise and Trump doesn’t make any proposals of his own. They’ve all lost my support.

Can the Democrats offer a better answer? Will America swing from one extreme to the other as fanatics at each end fail in turn, but double-down?

Perhaps we’re witnessing the dissolution of both major political parties. Such things have happened before. Even though the current balloting structure entrenches Republicans and Democrats today, that could change. As Gzep says here, perhaps it’s time to try something else. Perhaps, sometime in the future, scholars will say we were privileged to live on a cusp of history. Unlucky for us, we have to live through it.

As the English expression purported to be a Chinese curse says:

May you live in interesting times.

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