Suburban Bureau

Trust is a Political Issue

The only way to bring trust back to politics is not to vote for candidates who have broken our trust.

By Trey Shaughnessy
Published November 08, 2006

Throughout our lives we have different relationships - with a spouse, co-workers, doctor, teacher, coach, friends, police, and elected officials. With each of these relationships we have or expect a certain degree of trust. In some relationships we have complete trust, which is why it is most distressing when that trust is broken.

We trust that our children's teacher will not cause them harm. We trust that our spouse will be truthful. We trust that other drivers will show caution and regard for our safety. We trust that police officers will do their jobs and conduct themselves appropriately.

Generally, the higher the level of expected trust, the greater the disappointment when that trust is violated. The problem we have with politicians in general is that we have such a low expectation to begin with. When politicians say one thing and do another, or have hidden agendas that are exposed, we aren't surprised.

They actually get away with deceit because it has become expected. As voters, we make the problem worse by rewarding untrustworthy politicians with votes to put them back in office.

The only way to bring trust back to politics is not to vote for candidates who have broken our trust. There are two very important boxes in our society: the ballot box and the jury box. We can either use the ballot box as a powerful tool or squander it.

An election is our chance to reward or punish elected officials not just based on promises and/or successes and failures that may or may not be entirely their responsibility, but also to reward politicians who have integrity. When I think of some great politicians in our history, they are great for being honest, not for making the best decisions.

We all try to make the best decisions, based on our knowledge and circumstances. Some are good choices and others are not. The difference is that if a choice is made with honesty to their platform, themselves and to the electorate, it is more important then the actual decision.

It's more important primarily because they are in the position to make such a decision that affects so many people, because they were entrusted with the power in the first place.

This election, vote for the candidate who has earned your trust. Since many candidates are saying the same thing, or saying what they think we want to hear, it is difficult to choose based on policy. More often than not, the policy changes once they are elected anyway. A vote for trust will put honesty and ethics back into politics.

Trey lives in Williamsville NY via Hamilton. He is a Marketing Manager for Tourism and Destination Marketing in the Buffalo-Niagara Metro.

His essays have appeared in The Energy Bulletin, Post Carbon Institute, Peak Oil Survival, and Tree Hugger.

And can't wait for the day he stops hearing "on facebook".

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