Ever heard of The Trust Exercise?
It’s a team-building activity designed to strengthen the bond and working- productivity of teams. A designated individual stands up with their arms out to either side, and their eyes closed or blind-folded. They are told that their peers are standing behind them, and that they should let go and fall backwards. The objective is to see whether or not the individual trusts their peers to catch them.
This would work perfectly every time if the individual were allowed to know who exactly is standing behind them. It would then be possible to analyze each person, determine if, based on the best and most recent information, if these individuals will catch us or let us fall. But the person is denied this knowledge (hence the entire purpose of the trust exercise). Nobody wants to fall, and if you can’t see who is standing behind you, how do you know they will catch you?
It’s hard to know who to really trust these days, isn’t it?
First it was, well..just everything about who Donald J. Trump is. At the recent Republican National Convention in Cleveland, party speakers and surrogates and even the Trump family went out of their way to paint the Don as a decent, caring, trustworthy family man and business partner. Trumps’ number one stumping point has always been, “Hey, I’m a jerk, it’s true. But at least I’m an honest jerk”.
His strategy again and again has been the same: the system is rigged and inaccessible to the everyday citizen (although he himself is hardly able to represent the everyday citizen), and he is the only solution to the problem. The RNC is now being called the Party of Trump.
Around the same time, Trumps wife Melania gave an opening speech which has been famously ripped as having plagiarized a major section of FLOTUS Michelle Obama’s speech from 2008. In what resembled ordered chaos, Trump’s campaign attributed the lack of attribution to every reason from, “Oh stop making such a big deal out of nothing” to My Little Pony (no, seriously. Hasbro owes the Trump Campaign money for the free advertising). Finally, a Trump employee named Meredith Mclver stepped up and offered to resign over the controversial speech (a resignation Trump refused to grant..which means the whole presentation was damage control).
Then came the Clinton email scandal. In so many words, FBI director Comey came right out and said that Clinton broke the law, but that he was declining to press criminal charges. Attorney General Lynch agreed. At the RNC last week, livid chants of “lock her up” exploded every time Clinton’s name was mentioned, which was more than any other topic discussed.
Now there is the Wikileaks scandal, which brought to light 20,000 hacked emails from the Democratic National Convention to the public Web space. In these emails, it was discovered that the DNC may have possibly rigged the entire nominee campaign toward Hilary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders, (with possible help from Russia). The impact of these new implications have resulted in DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepping down as party chief. The Democratic convention starts today, and Democrats hoping to capitalize on the rabid confusion from last weeks RNC, will find themselves in need of PR vaccinations themselves.
2016 has been a year of broken trust. Not just ordinary broken-trust, (your dog urinates on the couch, your daughter lies about the party last night), but heart-wrenching, relationship-smashing, down-deep in the fabric of who we are as humans, broken trust.
- Self-identify as LGBTQ? Can’t trust public venues designed to be safe for you anymore.
- Celebrating your country’s national holiday? Not a situation you can trust to be safe at anymore.
- Do everything right during a police encounter, including laying down with both hands up? Don’t trust you won’t still get shot.
Trust is the belief in facts that indicate a person or situation is exactly as they are portrayed. Trust sees the criminal justice system as primarily rehabilitative, and not solely punitive. Trust tells us that politicians don’t change positions and break campaigning pledges because they are in-debt to lobbyists, but because they are doing what is right. Trust is what we hear when we are told that is there is no “one percent”, and that despite all evidence to the contrary, the American Dream is still accessible to all Americans.
But trust has been broken. Things and people and situations in 2016 have not been, in reality, as they were portrayed to us. We have seen double-standards of justice, 11:59pm backroom deals, and disdain for the lives of many, many people.
Part of Donald Trump’s inexplicable rise to fame has been because he and his people have cannibalized the idea that we as humans are easily manipulated and that we trust far too easily. And once that trust is broken, we as humans are primed and ready for the ones who will blame that betrayal on anything other than our own naivete.
In what was possibly the most controversial move this entire election season, former presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz stood on the stage at the recent RNC, and gave what might as well have been his 2020 campaign speech.
He congratulated Donald Trump for winning the nomination, then went on a tirade for 20 or so minutes speaking not to the party delegates, but to the American People. Before he was drowned out by boos and his wife was escorted to safety, Ted Cruz said:
“And to those listening, please, don’t stay home in November.If you love our country, and love your children as much as I know that you do, stand and speak and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”
Senator Cruz told America that if you want to know who to trust, move and act and speak your conscience. At the end of the day, people will lie. They will cheat. They will manipulate. They will try and tell you what the important issues are, and of those issues, which should be important to you. Don’t follow that path. Trust not the people and their politics. Trust your conscience, your God-given ability to reason and cognate. Decide for yourselves what issues mean the most to you and those you care about, and act upon those. It’s hard to know who to trust, so trust yourselves.
As Obama enters the six-month mark of his last day in office, it is a uneasy 2017 ahead of us all. Like a partner or spouse we’ve been with for years, someone familiar to us is leaving, and we know have to learn to trust someone new. Trump and Hilary, regardless of poll-points, have the lowest overall public trust factors in recent election history. However January 2017 plays out, vote with you mind and trust with your intellect.