We are approximately two weeks away from the Republican Convention (Cleveland) and three weeks from the Democratic Convention (Philadelphia). The FBI has completed its investigation into the Clinton emails concluding that while Hillary and her staff were “extremely careless” no one will be charged with illegal wrongdoing. Trump continues to call her “crooked Hillary” and she continues to blast him for not being honest either.
The polls are constantly changing regarding the percent of voters who say they trust Republican nominee Donald Trump more or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The fact checking provided by various media outlets serve as a constant reminder that BOTH candidates are prone to “stretching” the truth, so what’s a voter to do when it comes to evaluating trustworthiness? Just how is it being measured to begin with? This post will briefly examine the word “trust” in hopes that it can help us all develop more realistic expectations from the Democratic and Republican nominee. Also since the 2016 Olympics will also be upon us very soon (August 5th), I thought it might be fun to discuss the topic using a little Olympic competition jargon. So relax and read today’s post and then ask yourself…which candidate deserves your trust?
The Dictionary definition of Trust: The Bronze Medal Goes to Hillary Clinton!
The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word trust as “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” Based on the literal interpretation of the word, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton will be taking home a gold medal in the “trust” category, but is either at least worthy of a silver or bronze medal? Focusing on the word “reliable” in the definition, Hillary Clinton has a slight edge over Donald Trump for the bronze medal and here is why. She has served as a U.S. Senator (twice) and Secretary of State which are public offices, therefore, there is much more information about her job performance that is accessible to the public via the Internet and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). HOWEVER (Note the caps), because she was involved in national security work, there are some limitations to what you can get. Still you can submit a FOIA request, keeping in mind that you are not likely to get a quick response – again, at least it is an option. So in a nutshell, because Clinton has held public offices, you can more easily do some fact-checking to hold her accountable.
Layperson definition of Trust (honesty) – NO MEDAL WINNERS
So when it comes down to the basic question of who is being honest, there are no medal winners here. Both Clinton and Trump have been caught telling some un-truths. However, because of Hillary’s public service it is just easier to prove it. For that, she at least gets an “honorable mention”. It is not easy to get information on Donald Trump because, as a businessman in the private sector, details about his business practices, partnerships, and affiliations are not readily accessible to the public. Being a wealthy socialite and reality star means that you can still find a lot of interesting information about him; however, you cannot easily access information to prove whether his claims of great business negotiations are indeed true. Unless Trump voluntarily provides that information, the public cannot legally get it on their own. Now details regarding lawsuits, bankruptcy filings are public and can be accessed, but unless Trump is suing or being sued…his work performance is not available to voters. Clinton’s work performance is.
Public’s Perception of Trust: The Gold Medal goes to Donald Trump!
We can talk about the various definitions of trust all day long, but what it really comes down to is how the public perceives trust. First, it has to be said that according to the Pew Research Center, the public’s trust in the federal government has been declining for years. Americans simply do not trust the government. So ironically and unfortunately, despite the transparency of working in public office/government position, no one trusts you! Seriously, you can even find out the salary of Federal government workers (except workers involved in national security). So Clinton loses in the public perception of trust category by default because of her federal government work. Since Donald Trump has never held public office or worked for a government agency he is perceived as an “outsider” who is not part of the system. In essence, if you are part of the system, then you obviously want to protect it, so we do not expect you to say anything negative about it. In contrast, if you are not part of the system, then you have nothing to lose by critiquing it…so we trust that you will call things as they are whether good or bad. The statements constantly heard from Trump supporters are “He tells it like it is“, “He is NOT politically correct“, and “He is not a politician“. According to fact checkers, both Trump and Hillary Clinton have said things that were not true but it’s not like voters are even checking. In fact, a Newsweek article noted that voters don’t really care who’s telling the truth. Perception is everything…”I believe that it is so, therefore, it is so”.
Concluding Thoughts: Which presidential candidate can be trusted to do what they are promising?
Which candidate do you trust to do what they are promising? Will Trump make Mexico build and pay for that wall? Will he get rid of Common Core and make the Environmental Protection Agency disappear (List of Trump’s promises)? He certainly says it with so much conviction and zeal that you can’t help but believe him; however, the real question is CAN he actually do what he is promising? The answer is, not without Congress. Donald Trump, as CEO, can do whatever he wants and whatever he says he wants, it is done; however, Donald Trump as president can’t just send down his orders via email…it literally will take an act of Congress to get whatever he wants done. Alternatively, he could establish executive orders, but then he would be guilty of doing what President Obama has been accused of which is trying to get around the separation of powers and overreaching his executive powers. Actually, when Trump was asked about whether he would use executive orders, he did not deny it. So what about Hillary? Well, it seems she too has made some promises that are not solely in her power to keep, but she knows that. From being First Lady to Senator (a member of Congress) to Secretary of State…she at least knows HOW things get done and what is needed…which requires the cooperation of Congress. The president cannot simply command Congress to do things nor are they in a position to negotiate. On the other hand, Congress members can negotiate with each other so the President has to have friends in both houses. Details about the legislative process can be found in any high school Civics course or college-level political science/government course…or you can check out this website!
Many presidential candidates make promises and as voters we strive to hold them accountable for them if they get elected, but the reality is that it is the legislative branch (the first branch) that is responsible for drafting and passing laws. If only we held our Congress members to the same standards. It is funny that while we can easily track whether a Congress member is keeping their promise(s), few Americans even know who their representatives are! The average citizen can quickly tell you who the President is and what he has or has not done, but will pause when asked who represents them in the House and Senate! So, the very persons who are responsible for actually getting things done are off the hook with NO term limits! Now THAT is my dream job!
Thanks for “listening” to me whine. Hopefully my whining has made you think. If so, tell your friends/family/colleagues that you heard it through the Political Great Whine!
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