Trust in our leaders and governmental figures is a trait rarely found in America today. This has been true many times in the past of this country, but in the current situation this is especially true. While some have a natural distrust in authority, other don’t trust the people in power right now. The one thing they can agree on is always the same: they don’t like the current authorities. If trust in our political institutions is ever to be recovered, we must revalue three foundations of our country that have been lost.
The first element in this formula is truth. Without truth, there cannot be any semblance of trust in our leaders. If the public cannot trust the people in power to say what is true, then they cannot trust anyone to do so. Truth is the cornerstone of rationality. The notion that all people are capable of reason and of discovering objective truth is the basis of equality, which is the basis of self-government. Without a pursuit of truth, and leaders expected not to utilize and twist truth but rather to thrive on it, there can be no expectation of rationality; and without rationality, there is no civility; and without civility, there is no union. A nation such as the United States, with no natural bonds such as ethnicity or geography, will inevitably fall apart without truth.
The second piece is honesty. Not only must truth be prioritized, it must be espoused. It cannot be hidden to the benefit of any person, group, or policy. Honesty is the trait that makes this possible. Politics by its nature is only part a reflection on public opinion of a candidate’s judgment, policy or philosophy. It’s also a popularity contest and a reflection of voter emotion. When these latter two factors are at their lowest and the first is directed towards moral values and policies, honesty can thrive. When the public considers factors other than these more critical to the well-being of the nation, honesty in our political institutions suffers – and as a direct consequence, so does truth.
This leads to the final but probably most vital step that must be taken if we are to reshape our political system. We must again have a moral threshold for our leaders. Moral failings in our leaders should be a great concern to us – great enough to convince us to remove that leader from his position. The moral well-being of our leaders should be as imperative to us as that of any other person – perhaps more so, because our leaders are figures our entire society is supposed to respect. How can one respect a leader who has his fingers deep in corruption, or an extramarital affair? This is a crisis for society as well, because one can hardly criticize a leader for something he himself engages in. Thus, it is better for all to engage in moral behavior, and for society to use a rigid moral standard against our leaders. None but those of the best character should serve, to set an example for the rest of the nation.
Rather than acting as separate edges of the same sword, these elements – truth, honesty, and character – build and rely on each other. It is nearly impossible to hold one without the other two. They all reveal the same quality in a society: morality based on a belief in God. If that is not the societal standard, there is no reason to trust any leaders or figures in society. That is why, if we are to regain trust in our leaders, we must act according to these principles.