Success and tenacity go hand in hand.
Dave Cunningham / November 1, 2008
As we come down to the last few days of the presidential campaign, the word “trust” comes to mind. Who do we trust? Why do we trust? What do we trust? For those who have already decided who to vote for, and for those who will decide sometime between now and when they cast their ballot on Tuesday, a lot comes down to the answers to those three questions.
For who do we trust, the answers are plentiful. We trust younger and older, more experienced and less entrenched, smooth talker or plain speaker. We trust Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. Sad to say, race and gender still play a role on both ends of the spectrum, as some of us trust either black or white and either male or female. There are issues-voters who trust either the pro-lifer or the pro-choicer.
All of these and any one of these is sufficient for voter decisions.
Why do we trust? Again, there are probably as many reasons as there are voters. Some of us trust the person who reminds us of ourselves in style, age, gender or race. Some of us choose issues, for example, trusting John McCain for his reputation as a maverick in the Senate. Some would also choose him for his military service and reputed heroism as a POW. We trust Sarah Palin for being one of us. We trust Barack Obama because he is considered the inspirational candidate.
What do we trust? We trust our own perceptions of the candidates. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard supporters of both major candidates say to me, in the past couple months, “I just don’t trust [fill in a name] or, I find [fill in a name] to be more trustworthy, followed by a litany of reasons why the trust is deserved. It is fair to say, in summary, we trust the person we like and with whom we identify.
We can’t possibly know ahead of time what kind of president someone will turn out to be because so much of what that person will have to do as president will be determined by circumstances. Who would have thought, after all his campaign promises of being “a uniter, not a divider” that George W Bush would preside over one of the most, if not the most partisan administrations in history? Before 9/11, who would have guessed that he would be a wartime commander-in-chief? As he winds down his presidency who would have thought that his extreme laissez-faire, free marketer philosophy would yield to one of the biggest bank bailouts in American history costing American tax payers billions of dollars ?
Earlier this week, my brother reminded me of his 2004 prediction, after Bush’s re-election to a second term, that in four years people would virtually run him out of Washington due to his incompetence. I had to remind my brother that Americans are tired of most two term presidents and happy to see them go after eight years. If you are in any job long enough, you will probably make enough mistakes to get fired. The presidency is a high visibility target for criticism.
But whatever the reasons, President Bush has lost the trust of the citizens. If he were to run again, he would not be re-elected. I believe the same is true of former president Clinton. Once the trust is gone, the support goes along with it.
So who will it be? Will we trust Obama/Biden or McCain/Palin to head up the presidential administration for the next four, maybe eight years? We’ll know soon enough. And will this final choice live up to that trust? We won’t know that until the unexpected starts to happen. The one thing we know for sure is that whoever has our trust will be challenged to maintain it.