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Trust: What Obama Needs Most

By Elizabeth Woodworth  Posted by MikeZimmer (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H2 11/6/09

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America needs to get over its tolerance for lying.

Lying is a one-sided weapon used to gain advantage(1), and in doing so it attacks trust -- fragile trust -- the very basis of civilization.

During the Bush years, lying became the expected norm in politics, in an era of massive dishonesty above, and bitter cynicism below.

But cynicism is a cop-out -- a retreat into negative thinking. It reveals unwillingness to deal with a problem, which can only be solved by action.

Now that we have a seemingly trustworthy President, the public should try to transcend its cynicism, for if the governing equation is to work, there must be trust on both sides.

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President Obama has stated his commitment to building trust:

"My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration."(2)

However, as Russ Baker has recently written, he is up against a national security agenda that is run by the CIA and the Pentagon,

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"powerful and independent fiefdoms characterized by entrenched agendas and constant intrigue, [which] have ways of dealing with those who won't come to heel. Compound that with the Bush-Cheney administration's aggressive seeding of its staunch loyalists throughout the bureaucracy, and you have a pretty tough situation." (3)

This deep-seated inertia may help people who are disillusioned with Barack Obama to understand his obstacles. Howard Zinn recently expressed such disappointment, by saying, "there's an enormous weight left over by the Bush administration. Unfortunately, he [Obama] has done nothing to begin to lift that weight."(4)

Though this is not exactly true (Obama has made strides in urban policy, educational assistance and highway projects), Zinn calls for counteraction of the inertia by grassroots protest and pressure to reduce the militarism that is currently bankrupting America.

And Zinn has a good point. Obama cannot turn things around by himself. He cannot confront these deeply embedded interests, their hands on the levers of power, without a strongly mobilized public behind him.

Obama's vision of a rebirth of democracy requires more than a mere election, which scripts government as the authoritarian parent, and its citizens as the helpless (and often resentful) children.

His grassroots democracy requires a fundamental change in the governing relationship, with vigilant responsible adults actively exerting influence at every turn.

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Indeed we must relate to the challenge Obama faces, as equals.

Only equality between the population and its leaders will build public trust. Governors and governed face one another like infinitely reflecting mirrors, and neither can function effectively without trust from the other.

Becoming equal partners with the President means rising above our negative projections, and viewing the timeworn knee-jerk hostility to political leaders for the lazy destructive habit it is.

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Father and husband, free thinker, with a libertarian socialist bent, published writer, retired information systems consultant, former experimental psychology graduate student, martial arts teacher, writer of tunes, guitar teacher, web-master, (more...)

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