Harold Hutchison / September 3, 2020

What Really Wrecks Our Trust In Government?

The political class tends to ignore the damage done by its gross double standards.

Our distrust of government is in some ways like an orphan. We know it’s there, but nobody wants to talk about why it’s there — especially those in power.

There are many reasons for the reluctance of the power elite to discuss this distrust, but failing to address problems never works out. We’ve seen this in the use of government power to suppress debate. But what often foments more distrust isn’t the outright abuses of power. Those are easier to spot and call out, and eventually the system will address them to some degree.

But outright governmental abuses aren’t the only things that can erode the people’s trust. Often it isn’t the big stuff; instead, it’s the little things.

For instance, who would think a politician’s visit to a hair salon could be controversial? Well, when the salon is locked down within a leftist city and the speaker of the House somehow manages to get a hair appointment there when no one else can, many will rightly view it as “a slap in the face.” Or what about restaurant owners who can’t host patrons within their establishments, yet see their mayor dining inside across state lines? Or how about a Supreme Court justice officiating at a wedding where there isn’t much social distancing?

Those are just the most recent cases. We can go back further to see more double standards, especially when applied to the fight against the Wuhan coronavirus. Politicians denounced those protesting their states’ lockdowns as they stretched for weeks past that initial 15-day “bend the curve” period, even as many of those affected by the lockdowns faced financial ruin. And yet those same politicians also granted a massive hall pass to those protesting the death of George Floyd and all manner of other “social justice” causes.

Indeed, we then get lectured that those protests were okay because of what they were protesting. Most Americans, though, can recognize a double standard when they see one. Does anyone think that a deadly virus can distinguish between what the people are doing, much less what their political affiliation is?

It’s one thing to argue that the science has changed. But when people are nearing the sixth month of what was supposed to be a 15-day lockdown, their trust, already eroded by moving goalposts, comes to a breaking point, a “rules don’t apply to me” moment, a recognition that those in power are playing favorites.

Especially in today’s hyper-polarized climate, distrust eats away at us. And restoring that trust takes plenty of time and effort. The question is whether Americans have had enough of the former to muster up the will to do the latter.

(Visit our comprehensive CV19 Pandemic response and recovery page to review our timeline of government and political actions related to the pandemic, and see our related pages regarding the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.)

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