The Pew Research Group recently published a poll about Trust, Facts, and Democracy. (April 26, 2018) CNN published an editorial about the poll entitled, “1 poll number that should be a wake-up call for politicians“. The number they referred to was “3%”. This was the number of respondents who said they had a “Great Deal” of confidence in elected officials to act in the best interest of the public.
That question also revealed that 75% said they either had “not too much” or absolutely no confidence in their elected officials.
A few things…
CNN made the jump from “elected officials” to “politicians”. Those are not the same things. Granted, usually they are. But sometimes people get elected specifically because they are *not* a politician. Politician has been a dirty word in America for a long time.
How long? I have no idea. You can do *that* research. I just know that Jimmy Carter was elected to the presidency in 1976 in large part because he was an “outsider”, which many people interpreted as “not a politician.” That was dumb, because he was very much a politician, having begun — as far as I can tell — as a school board member, then a member of the Georgia Senate, then governor of Georgia. His father had even been a member of Georgia politics.
The point is, there has long been a feeling that we should “get rid of the politicians that run the country.”
Well. That led to Donald Trump. Love him, hate him, or ignore him (Is that even possible?) pretty much everyone agrees — Donald Trump is no politician.
But wait a minute. What *is* a politician? The dictionary says a politician is someone who is skilled and experienced in governing or in conducting the business of governing.
But is that what most people think of when they use that word? Mostly our politicians, those that run the business of government, are most skilled at being “politically correct.” That is, they don’t say things that are too far from the mindset of their constituency. They act and behave in ways of which most of society approves.
Is Donald Trump a politician? By definition, yes. He is running the business of the government. You can argue whether or not he’s running it well, but he is part of the business by virtue of office — even if he’s left the virtue out of it. The last part is why those who dislike him feel they way they do — he’s not politically correct. His lack of political correctness is a big reason why his supporters support him.
Anyway, back to the poll and the thing that caught CNN’s eye — the low trust in elected officials.
However, what caught my eye was this: although only 3% of people had a great deal of trust in elected officials, business leaders were only greatly trusted by 5% and the news media only gained 8%. Overall, no leadership group received a great deal of trust from over 40% of the people. The most trusted leaders? The military. Even military leaders received a great deal of trust from 39% of the people. (Another 41% gave them a “fair amount” of trust, which puts them in the solid trust of 80%.)
The scary part for me is that only 9% have a great deal of trust in one other group: religious leaders. That’s only 6% better than elected officials. And a full 50% say they have little or no trust in religious leaders. Contrast that against the 79% of people who solidly trust scientists.
It’s no wonder that people will believe the wild speculations of science, but tune out those who preach eternal truths from the Bible.