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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Political Scandals - Reason why Public Trusts is Low

Dorman Bridgman Eaton once said that public office is a public trust.  He highlighted the high expectations of the public to the individuals who are in public office.  As representatives of the people they are supposed to act only to promote the ends of the public and not their own interest.

In a democracy, the government is essentially run by the people.  Through the political process of election the public chooses a set of leaders who will represent them either in the House of Representative or in Senate or in the Office of the President.  The element of public trust is the basic element which makes possible a well-ordered representative democracy.  It is essential, therefore, that the public officers should be able to maintain the high degree of trust and confidence which the public has bestowed upon them.  It is also the trust that serves as the public officer’s reason to remain in public office.

Low public trust in the government may lead to weak participation in the elections.  When people do not vote their voices are not heard and the representatives elected either in the House of Representatives or in Congress or in White House are not the true representatives of the people.  Elections will become activities which are fruitless and futile exercise and the leaders of the people do not have their mandate.

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It is because of this reason that it is essential for government leaders and representatives to enjoy the public trust.  However, trust is something that is not simply given.  It is earned.  More often it is difficult to earn and easy to lose.  According to Bill Schneider, there was a time when the government enjoyed public trust.  This was the time of President Eisenhower and President Kennedy which was considered as the golden era of theUnited States.  This was the time when 75% of Americans believed in the government.

Since then, the public trust in the government has substantially declined through the years.  According to the Gallup Poll, today’s level of public trust and confidence for office of the President and Congress is the lowest they have ever been.  Before the officers have enjoyed a high mark of trust and confidence, the level of trust and confidence is gone in today’s society.

One of the reasons for the low trust and confidence rating is the political scandals involving high ranking political officials.  Many political observers say that the scandals in the past and until today are continuously having an impact on the public perception on their government officials.  It should be stressed, however, that this is not solely because of the Watergate scandal involving President Nixon or the modern-day scandals involving President Clinton’s escapades in the White House or Gov. Spitzer’s involvement with a prostitute.

Bill Schneider said that the Watergate Scandal where President Nixon’s involvement in criminal conspiracies was discovered was only the climax of the problem.  Even before the Watergate Scandal, public trust and confidence was already declining.  This started with the Vietnam War.  During the Vietnam War, then President Lyndon Johnson launched a massive media campaign about the Vietnam War.

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