Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tax Reform: There’s Change and There’s Reform, They’re Not the Same

Tax Reform has been a political topic, well, since the before we were the United States of America. It is therefore not surprising that it was an issue in the 2016 election. Perhaps not a highly debated topic, or even frequently discussed, and certainly not a topic explained or assessed during the campaigns; but as always “promises” were made. The “promises” were that taxes would be cut and the code simplified, that they would be made “fair”.

Now the election is over and with a Republican Congress and Administration delivering on the “promises” should be more feasible than for its been in a while. Of course, making the promises isn’t the same as fulfilling them. But to make matters far more difficult, keeping the promises means more than just having an answer. It requires that the answer that you have is an appropriate, effective and productive solution to the problem; and that requires that you understand the problem and not what you think the problem is. So, it is with Tax Reform and its implied problem with taxes.

Let’s start with the issue that our tax system is ‘unfair’. If the President and Congress are going to make them ‘fair’ or at least ‘more fair’ then understanding what makes them ‘unfair’ would be an essential requirement. How else would you be able to know that your solution fixes the problem if you can’t define the problem and can demonstrate how your “Reform” fixes it both in theory and ultimately in fact?

If the President and the Republican Congress have a plan then what are the answers to the following “Unfairness” questions? If the Democrats in Congress have a different plan (i.e., answer to Tax Reform) then what are their answers to the “Unfairness” questions?

The “Unfairness” questions:

Why is the current system ‘unfair’?
  1. Is it ‘unfair’ to everyone, and ‘unfair’ in the same way to everyone; or does the ‘unfairness’ vary by different categories of people/entities?
    • If the ‘unfairness’ isn’t the ame for everyone, who is it more ‘unfair’ for and why?
    • Conversely, if not ‘unfair’ equally for everyone, who is it ‘more fair’ for and why?
  2. What change under the proposed reform creates a more ‘fair’ tax system?
    • Why is this more ‘fair’ than the current tax system?
    • Does this new tax policy generate more, less or the same tax revenues than the current system, if the taxable incomes for everyone were to stay the same as it will be for 2016 taxable incomes?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The “Accepting Election Results” Question – A Sad Commentary

The media has been infatuated with Trump’s response to the question of “Would he accept the results of the election”? His answer at the time was that “I will tell you at the time”. Now since then the Clinton campaign, a variety of Republican Congress-members, and the media have been aghast at Trump for disgracing America’s democratic principle of a ‘peaceful transition of power’ from the incumbent President to the newly elected President. Almost immediately after the debate, the Trump campaign surrogates (including his daughter) have been explaining what he meant.
To be honest, it is hard to view anyone engaged in this farce as individuals the public should be listening to, let alone voting for them or their candidate; and the media has fumbled the issue from night one.

While the tumult that Trump’s answer has produced is unworthy of an American candidate to create and subsequently promote or allow the misguided notion that the nation’s citizens should not accept the results of the election. Additionally, the real issue with Trump’s answer is that it does not come close to what someone asking to be President should have stated. I don’t mean that he should just have said, “Yes” but rather that if he wanted to make a point then it was incumbent upon him to make a clear and informative answer that defines and clarifies why he isn’t saying yes.  An executive, a leader, and certainly a president must be able and competent at presenting information and positions that are highly likely to be understood and that inform those they direct and those they work for (the public). Trump’s answer failed at that, his campaign’s surrogates failed at that, the subsequent ‘clarifications’ and ‘explanations’ have been forced and inadequate.

Now don’t get all ‘I’m an anti-Trump type’; because Clinton and her campaign surrogates didn’t recognize the problem for what it was either. This is a different area of failure for an executive, leader, president to have. Clinton’s response was condemning the statement as “horrifying”; rather than recognizing it as a mistake on her opponent’s part and seizing the opportunity before the ‘statement’ gets mitigated. Now having missed the immediate opportunity there seems to be no comprehension on the part of the Clinton campaign to how to maximize the damage that Trump has provided to his own campaign. If a savvy executive thought Trump’s answer was ‘horrifying’ than they would have used the moment to show Trump’s statement as coming from a candidate who speaks carelessly which allows him to be played. Not the image a leader would want illustrated to the public. The public expects Clinton to object to Trump and his views, but the public is influenced when Clinton demonstrates that she can put him back on his heels.

As for the media, the best that can be said is that they recognized that there was another ‘sensational’ news story to hash over and over; but they didn’t demonstrate any ability to frame the discussion to its substance, or to fulfill their duty to ‘inform the public’. The news media persists in the importance of presenting the facts (the truth) but without including the context and clarity of the topic, the media neglects whether they provide the public with an ability to comprehend the truth. Trump’s statement represents a ‘fact’ of what he said (what his words were) but that alone doesn’t insure that anyone, even Mr. Trump, understands what he just said. If this were the only time that the media underperformed it would be a forgivable rare event; but it isn’t rare. It isn’t rare for issues with Trump. It isn’t rare for issues with Clinton. It isn’t rare in any context.

 Consider the statement Trump made. He wasn’t willing to say if he would accept the results of the election. Why is it Trump’s position on the results that matter? What about the view that the voters have about what they decided, is that irrelevant? Is there any constitutional, legal or any requirement for the losing candidate to concede?  It may be traditional, honorable and demonstrate a degree of maturity; but it is unnecessary.  The election process will record a winner whether the loser accepts the fact or not.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Dead Heat Election: Why So Close?

With the first 2016 Presidential debate tonight, the two virtually tied candidates will attempt to make a difference. Now the media and political wonks have been debating, pontificating, espousing, arguing, explaining, and blathering about why the two leading candidates are within the ‘margin of error’ of each other. But just because the ‘analysts’, ‘spokes-persons’, and ‘experts’ have their rationales and interpretations that doesn’t mean that any of them are correct or understand why the race is so close.

Is it possible that there are explanations that aren’t being presented by all those in the ‘know’?

Well, let’s see if there might be any rationales that are less dependent upon the those who are ‘there to help inform us’ about what’s happening.

An Informed Electorate:
The polls’ sampling of the public/voters measures their choice in a candidate that they are willing to indicate that they will vote for at the time of the polling. Now that tells us what their responses were, if they made a choice; but in itself doesn’t provide a why that choice. So a ‘dead-heat’ race is caused not by who they picked (except statistically) but by the ‘why’ they are divided equally.

Now if Jefferson’s “well-informed electorate” is as necessary to our democracy as he thought, and which I support, then might not the current poll results reflect upon the state of the electorate’s well-informed condition? What state of the ‘well-informed’ electorate would likely result in tied candidates? Logically any state that has the two candidates in equivalent “informed” states. Note: These need not be ‘well-informed’ states, just equivalent. A ‘tie’ may mean that voters are not informed at all about either candidate; that would most likely result in a tie. But ‘not informed at all’ can’t be precisely true because the public believes many things about each candidate; and thus they have an informed status other than ‘not informed’. Of course, the public is a statistical population and there will be some proportion of the public that may be close to a state of ‘not informed at all’. These voters would thus add some weight to an equal result when grouped with the rest of those polled.

For those voters that are ‘informed’, the salient question is how ‘well-informed’ are they? If they are informed primarily on who is the Democrat and who is the Republican, then all that is required for a tie is that half the peopled polled are Democrats and half are Republicans. So is that it? Is being ‘informed’ just having a team in the “big” game? Not sure that is what Jefferson meant.

What about the case where voters are a little more informed than just the candidate’s party? What if the public had a view of the ‘trustworthiness’ of each candidate? Well if the public perception was that both candidates were equally trustworthy then the voters would either be flipping the ‘trustworthy’ coin or they then go with another factor (like Party). Again we can easily see a tie resulting. Note: the equality of ‘trustworthiness’ doesn’t have to be favorable, it can be very unfavorable for each candidate as it is in the current circumstance.

So the problem with seeing a tie in the polls, is that it may indicate that the public is well-informed about each candidate, or that they are not well-informed about each candidate, or that the level and quality of well-informed on the two candidates is basically equal even if it turns out that the public is well-informed about one and not well-informed about the other.

Let’s hope that the public will be well-informed about the candidates; but more importantly that what they are well-informed about is factual, substantive, and salient to why a voter should choose a candidate. A tied situation may not be a good indication of whether the public is meeting a necessary condition for sustaining a democracy.

Testing The Null Hypothesis:
On the statistical side of a ‘tied’ poll, the basic conclusion is that there is ‘no difference’ between the two conditions: Which candidate you will vote for.  So if the public view of the candidates is that they are essentially the same, then you expect a tie. The statistics indicate that there results, no matter how much of a slight difference one candidate has, it is within the ‘margin of error’ so no difference.  This explanation requires only that what the voters know about the candidates is insufficient to create a difference.

This view of the two candidates being the ‘same’ does not seem to have much merit since it is difficult to see the two candidates’ “performing” and conclude that they are viewed the ‘same’.

This does raise the question about why the public doesn’t see a difference between the two candidates in terms of their Party’s views and ideologies, or stances on substantive issues, or campaigns’ solutions. Getting a tie when these facets of the election are considered either means that the population is divided equally independent of these factors, or that these factors are not different (or not relevant) to the voters’ decisions.

The tied results are telling us something, but I don’t know if we know what until there is more data that shows clear differences. If it’s just that one issue wins one group and another issue wins another group, then neither candidate/party has found a new and specific issue that is effective in moving one group from side A to side B.

The public is divided fairly evenly in part because there isn’t any position that makes a compelling difference to the majority of the voters, which may well mean that in fact the public doesn’t see any difference between the candidates in any manner that truly should matter in their choice.

It’s Not the Election, It’s the Dream:
The ‘dead-heat’ may be an indication of no inspirational, aspirational, or unifying message/vision engendered by the two campaigns. I don’t doubt that there are lots of die-hard supporters for one candidate/party/ideology or the other; but the current environment is not demonstrating a superior vision to the public. It’s not even clear that either campaign is offering a compelling vision that “changes voters’ minds”. If the messages, policies, and vision of a candidate result in an even split in the polls is that indicating that they are essentially equivalent that neither has a better idea, answer, solution, or method for handling the nation’s problems and issues than the other?

The public may be telling us that the two Parties are collectively out-of-touch. They are both seen as inferior choices with no vision that deals with the public’s issues, needs and dreams. We may well have a tie because the public is the forgotten dimension of the election.

Them Versus Us, Versus We:
The Democrats and Republicans are not the only groups. We know this but it isn’t clear that it isn’t the Republicans or Democrats that decide elections. They are already assumed to be statistically baked-in as going with the Party’s candidate. They are a given and don’t make a difference unless they don’t show up. There are other groups that determine the outcome of our elections. The Independents, those unaligned to a political party, are the major constituency that decides our elections. There are some other political parties that make some contribution to elections, but how decisive they are subject to the degree to which their votes can be garnered by the Democrat or Republican sides.

The Independents are of course not anywhere near as uniform and consistent in which Party they will vote for. There is a Republican-leaning sub-group, a Democratic-leaning sub-group, a more truly independent non-leaning sub-group, and a set of sub-groups that have other orientations including those who are less politically inclined and reliable as voters. This election will be more influenced by how successfully Independents are swayed to pick the next President. With tied polling results the question of is there a difference between the two candidates is seemingly indicating that regardless of the differences that are ‘talked’ about for Trump and Clinton, they are not resulting in the public treating them as being someone who matters in making a ‘difference’ to what the voters want in their choice for President.

Maybe the biggest factor in this election is or will be those voters who want to ‘smash’ the current political environment. The choice may be how to get rid of those politicians that have failed the public. Half the voters think it’s go with a non-politician and half think it’s go with a politician who has a lot of experience. A tie may just be a measure of how angry voters are with the present situation and who they are choosing to blame.

Why Are We Tied?:

We are tied because there is nothing that either side is presenting that makes a meaningful difference to the public. Flip a coin and come down on one or the other. What coin you flipped may be biased by some factor or other, but at the end of the day half the coins will come up heads and half tails. Do this with a large population and sample and unless there is something that makes a difference you are going to get a tie. If you choose the politician/non-politician coin, you still get 50-50. If you flip the Republican/Democrat coin you still get 50-50. Toss a man/woman coin and you get another tie. Even when you use a Trustworth-Clinton / Trustworth-Trump coin (no matter how low the trustworth level is) and we do not get a leader, we get a ‘dead-heat’. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Something To Consider: Testing Our Politicians

It’s not likely nor do I expect that the idea of testing our politicians across a number of psychological dimensions or on some mental and personality factors would be undertaken, I do see the great advantage to the nation in doing so. I am not proposing that this testing is any form of “qualification” for being allowed to run for office since there is no legal requirement for such to be elected, nor should there be. I propose that we test politicians only for the information that can be gleaned from the data. Such testing could provide insights into a candidate that may be importance to better understand the individuals that are striving for your vote.

I suspect that people are thinking that I am proposing an Intelligence test, however; I don’t think that an intelligence measure would be an overly meaningful indicator of a politician’s potential effectiveness or competency in office. After all, I suspect that we have had politicians who would have scored high in intelligence that performed just modestly to poorly, and we have had some who would have scored as basically average in intelligence who were excellent leaders. Of course, if a candidate couldn’t score above the level of a highly impaired intelligence rating there ought to be value in knowing that before one votes.

More important than intelligence, which one would hope all candidates would possess at a basic level, are various aspects of a person’s personality, social traits and behavioral attributes. These dimensions could inform a voter’s expectations of qualities that they are expecting in a candidate, or are not concerned that they possess or don’t possess.

Consider whether you would be comfortable in electing a candidate who didn’t have at least a normal level of empathy and compassion for others, or that couldn’t work well with anyone who challenged or disagreed with them. On the other side of the coin would you feel confident in voting for someone who exhibited highly sociopathic tendencies, that was prone to fits of rage and anger when frustrated, or if they had issues in distinguishing delusions from reality? The decision to vote for someone based on this information doesn’t tell you which way you should vote. You would still be making that decision based on all the issues and interests that are important to you. This additional information would just be more information that you can include in that decision. You may prefer a person who possess a higher degree of sociopathic tendencies than average; perhaps based on the view that such personality types do show up in successful individuals in organizations (not that all successful individuals must be sociopaths).

What about basic mental functions that indicates how normally a candidate’s brain is functioning? Shouldn’t you know if someone has a normal memory, is able to perform basic reasoning tasks, can comprehend information presented, or is able to make a decision without complete information and provide a reasoned explanation of how they arrived at their decision?

In obtaining this type of data about politicians, the public may gain a better understanding of what qualities and attributes have been associated with politicians that they have favored in the past. This data may also provide a means to better understanding aspects of our government. Are the officials in office typical of the general population, or do they differ in any unique ways? This information could also be useful and educational to politicians themselves by revealing facets of their make-up that may be contributing to the overall success or failure of government. Voters might learn that there is a connection between the people they have elected, the qualities that the politicians possess, and the results that they see. It may be that there is a “cause and effect” relationship between those you elect and what happens next.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Wrong Direction – What Is The Compass Again?

Americans have decided that they are not satisfied with how things are going, that the nation is going in the wrong direction. There are lots of reasons that are given: race relations, government, economy, jobs, crime/violence, immigration, National security, terrorism, guns, and maybe even taxes or healthcare. The order or priority of these reasons changes from time to time based on events in the news. So race relations spiked up with the police shootings of blacks, and the economy gives up a little ground as being the first place reason. But regardless of the ordering of reasons that people give the country is unsatisfied with the way things are going and are at only 17% satisfied.

Both Republican, Democratic and all the others Americans are unhappy. Being one of them, I can emphasize with the sentiment because I am not satisfied with the direction of the nation also. However, I haven’t been satisfied with the direction of the nation for decades, particularly with the political parties, the politicians, and many other facets of our society. So the current dissatisfaction level is not new to me, and it’s not new to the nation; we have been here before.  What then does it mean today and what rationale and logic would explain how we got here?

Race relations as an issue of concern and dissatisfaction has risen to a more salient and visible issue, so with the implied need to change the direction that the nation is going in, what would make the public happy? Change is required because: one, there can’t be change without something being different; two, the politicians are offering to make things better (which implies change); and three, there is something that the public thinks is wrong with how they see race relations affecting them. It’s this last one that is problematic. Why? Because I don’t for one second believe that everyone who is unhappy is unhappy for the same reasons, nor that the change that one politician would propose would suit everyone in the same way. If race relations were relatively stable over the last 20 years and have dropped of late then what restores the ‘status quo’ to where it was before and will that be sufficient? Recent events would suggest that there is not one-side to this and thus will require an approach that addresses underlying conditions. If those conditions can’t be agreed to then a solution is unlikely and thus the ‘change isn’t gonna come’.

On par with race is the government and the economy. Let’s take government first.
The dissatisfaction with the government has been a long-standing issue. There are those who are unsatisfied with government because it’s too big and some who thinks it too small. Government is rebuked because it’s too expensive and wasteful, and because it spends too little on critical national needs. Government is viewed as intrusive and abusive of citizens’ rights and lives, and it isn’t providing the necessary security and safety-net that citizens expect and deserve from their government. Yes, you’ve got it, the government is everyone’s “bad” guy. Of course this leads to a logical inconsistency; as they say, “You can have your cake and eat it to.”  But if government is bad and no one likes it, then who’s to blame? There is no element of the government that isn’t and wasn’t based on what the politicians that the “PUBLIC” elected caused to be the government. You can’t blame it only on the Republican or the Democratic party because both exist and have existed for decades (now you know why I am not satisfied with the direction of the nation) so the elected officials have collectively created the situation and conditions that the American people don’t find satisfying. Is this the “Establishment” concept that a large number of Americans are angry about and hate? These citizens are unhappy with the people who were elected in their states and for the presidency because they are politicians that don’t represent the people and don’t work for the people. 

Wait! They are angry with politician who were elected by the people who don’t want establishment types. Why then are they electing them over and over? You can’t have an establishment or an elite if you don’t elect them. It would seem that we have identified who some of the principle culprits are to blame for the government that we don’t like. That it’s the voters is an inconvenient thing to acknowledge so it probably won’t be viewed as how we expect and want our system of government to operate; we elect the government and we are responsible for what that gets us.

Now if you ask me do I think the government is well managed and effective; I will tell you, “No, I think that Congress and the Administration has failed significantly in how they have performed for decades.” But even here, there have been the occasional ‘blind squirrel finding a nut’ event so that not even our politicians have been 100% useless. This still doesn’t speak well for the voters who are so unhappy with things. If things are bad, then accept the responsibility and seek your elected officials on different terms than you have been using for decades.

The Economy is the more easily understood factor that Americans are unsatisfied about; but even here the reasoning and logic that is exhibited around the economy is disturbing. If the issue that is a more quantifiable area of America’s dissatisfaction than most, I wonder why it would be the case that we are more concerned and dissatisfied with the economy today than in the past without a reference to when in the past. Since the “great recession” in 2007-2009, the US economy has been improving which means that if the public is more dissatisfied today compared to when and why?  Would America be more satisfied if the economy were still in the shape it was in in 2008? 2010? 2012? 2014?

Now is the direction the economy is going in the wrong direction, or is it that we would prefer the economy to be farther along? So the direction is really the rate of change to a better and stronger economy?

I suspect that the issue of the economy being on the wrong track is more related to issues: jobs, trade agreements, financial stability, income inequality, and many other items. If this is correct, then the path forward needs to be solved around concrete issues and policies that can be acted upon. 

Unfortunately, here we are dependent upon the quality and talents of the elected officials that we vote into office. Again if we are dissatisfied with the results then we need to looks to those who we elected and put in charge. This is particularly a responsibility of Congress, since the President has less power to impact the economy than Congress. That Congress has been a spectacular failure in recognizing that they are the mechanism through which the government affects the economy comes as less of a surprise when one considers how willing the voters are to return members of Congress to their positions over and over.

If you don’t trust your politicians to do the job you want, then why are you voting for them? Isn’t that the “Wrong Direction” problem that we have in America? 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

“It’s Going to Be Rigged!” - An Interesting Perspective of America

The 2016 Election season is providing a remarkable window into the current American political environment. The view is particularly interesting in that it shines light onto the souls of the political parties. And what the public has seen isn’t necessarily a good thing for the parties, since as they say in politics: “There are two things you don’t want to see being made, sausage and legislation.”

There were accusations that the leaders of each party were trying to ‘rig’ the process. And there were efforts within each party that would support that there were those in the Parties’ committees that were operating along biased lines with preferences for or against one of the candidates. So surprisingly the public was reminded of something that it already knew but seem unable to integrate into their reasoning; that is, the public doesn’t trust politicians. But the fact that party leaders and functionaries were attempting to guide the primary processes doesn’t examine the most important aspects of those primaries and of the upcoming general election which is now being touted as “going to be rigged”.

Starting with the primaries, the ‘rigging’ claimed is closely associated with the parallel charge that the primaries were ‘unfair’. So the question is what was ‘rigged’ and ‘unfair’, and how did this rigging and unfairness get executed? The ‘rigging’ seems to vary by state, where each state’s Party committee define and control their primary processes. So some of the ‘rigging’ isn’t necessarily at a universal or national level but more local. Other efforts were directed at identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities that could be used against one candidate.  So not only can’t the public trust politicians and the parties, but the politicians can’t trust the politicians and their own party.

This would all seem to be what Americans would expect of nations that are lead by an authoritarian, fascist, sectarian, oligarchy, or dictatorship style of government; however, Americans like to think that our nation is still a democratic system. So while citizens might find the parties’ interference as distasteful and unethical, does it allow them to actually ‘rig’ the primaries or the election?

In every state their respective primaries allowed the voters to choose their candidate. These voters were able to decide and choose which candidate that they wanted to support. Candidates won or lost a primary based on those votes. To ‘rig’ that process the only avenue that a party had was to convince the voter to choose their biased view over that of the voters’ own judgment. If the party voters think the process was ‘rigged’ then the voters were the individuals who ‘rigged’ the vote. The desires and intentions of the parties can try to persuade the voters to go with their preference, but the voters get to decide for themselves because that is not just Americans expect that is what they demand. In what primary were the voters denied their right to cast their vote for their choice?

There is another facet of the parties rigging their primaries, and of some nebulous entity or group that is ‘rigging’ the general election that requires some inspection. The leaders in each party were also elected by the voters, so the people who are claiming that the party is ‘rigging’ the process are people who the voters trusted and wanted representing them, and elected to office. If the system or the process is being ‘rigged’ it is being done by the people that the voters believed in. This is highly illogical, particularly since voters tend to reelect over and over the same individual. The voters have ‘rigged’ the system, as they choose both the candidates and the winning elected official. The states’ efforts to ensure that those who vote are legitimate and eligible voters would seem to make ‘rigging’ the election not just irrational but guaranteed to fail. The number of people that would be required to be involved would make ‘rigging’ the election impossible to execute and retain hidden; plus anyone competent person involved would be able to make the themselves enormously wealthy by blackmailing those involved.

The threat to the elections “being rigged” unsound, irrational, and unreasoned. The threat to the election is whether the voters are adequately informed and knowledgeable about the issues and problems facing the nation; and whether they understand the proposed policies and plans being contested, and the implications and the cost-benefits of those policies and plans. While there are a sizeable portion of the voter population that will make an emotional decision, America has to rely upon the judgment of those voters who will use intelligence, experience and vision to determine the winners of the next election. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

The “TRUST” Issue – A 2016 Election Dilemma

There is a perception of the Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates that neither is particularly trustworthy. This lack of trust is seen and spoken of as a major issue in the election, but since both are more or less equally distrusted one might ask if that renders the ‘Trust’ issue as irrelevant. The ‘Trust’-factor would be unimportant if it had the same and an equal effect on both contenders but that isn’t clearly the case. The polls may indicate that the distrust level may be nearly equivalent but the defining reason for distrust judgments are not specified in the poll and thus are objectively unknown. So what makes these candidates so untrusted compared to what the public expects?

Hold on! Who said that they are less trusted by the public than they ought to be? How trusted should a candidate for President be? I suppose one could look at past elections, if trust was polled. One might assume that on average half the voters would trust the ‘average’ candidate and half would not. On that basis Clinton and Trump are failing to meet the mark but perhaps not by an unreasonable degree as normal variations in such situations would rationally occur.

There is polling data on the ‘honesty and ethical standards’ that various professions have with the public. Firefighters, nurses, members of the military, and engineers are among the most highly trusted (ranging from 90% to 70% as high or highly trusted*). While on the other end of the ‘Trust’-spectrum; professions we don’t trust have Members of Congress with the highest levels of distrust** 64% (low or very-low trust ratings). Senators come in at 45% distrust levels, business executives at 32% and state governors at 31% untrusted. So on this comparative-basis, the presidential candidates are doing better than Members of Congress and only slightly less well than other occupations on the more untrusted than trusted side. So on the whole, our 2016 candidates are more or less consistent with where we would have expected them to be even absent their decision to run for president; that is, the majority of the public would not be predisposed to trust them.

Now this raises the question: “If most people didn’t trust them to start with, why would it matter that we don’t trust them now?”  If members of Congress and the Senate get elected over and over, and we don’t trust them; what is so extraordinary that most people don’t trust either candidate this time? Now there is an implication to the general distrust of our politicians that seems extremely important but I am going to leave that for a latter topic.

When we ‘Trust’ or don’t ‘Trust’ a candidate, what precisely does that mean? I am sure that I know what I mean, and that you know what you mean, and that we think we know what everyone else means but I of course know that that isn’t and can’t be true. Trust me.

If ‘Trust’-worthiness is important in how you decide to choose your candidate, or if not ‘your’ candidate at least who you pull the lever for, then having an understanding of what we mean when we say we ‘Trust’ or don’t ‘Trust’ is a reasonable expectation. I would say it’s a ‘necessary condition’ but that would presume that all voters make their choices based on an informed, reasoned, logical, and competent basis. That isn’t true, ‘Trust’ me, there are a significant number of voters who make their decisions on an emotional-basis. But back to the question of what do we mean to ‘Trust’ someone (or a candidate, if you have a lower standard for them then you have for others)? Objectively ‘Trust’ means to believe in the “integrity, ability, or character of a person”, to “have confidence or reliance” in them.  It means to have faith in and to depend upon someone to act according to your expectations regarding how they will act or perform. You may think that ‘Trust’ means something else completely but then how much a candidate is “Trusted” nor not would not make for a meaningful point of discussion.

It’s possible I suppose that the importance of “Trust” or lack-thereof in the 2016 elections is both an unreliable and very poor factor in making a voting decision without the ‘belief’ or ‘faith’ that you have imbued into you candidate being based on sound and reasoned knowledge. This raises the question of what does your judgment of ‘Trust’ indicate that a candidate will do? It would also require that what they will do is something that is desirable; after all, you can ‘trust’ a thief to steal from you but I doubt that that is what you want or that it would be in your best interest.

From my perspective, ‘Trust’ in the political arena may not be practical, meaningful, or desirable. The desire to be able to ‘Trust’ a candidate or eventually the elected individual may seem to be what you would want, but only if you knew what you expected to be done and accomplished by that individual. That would mean that you had to be competently informed about their plans, policies and the requirements that those plans and policies necessitated. If our political process actually dealt with issues and policies and plans that are being contested then we might be a basis for ‘Trust’, but if there is no competent and rigorous discussion and analysis of the “contest of ideas” then this election may be little more than another exercise in paying your preferred dealer for your addictive ‘political drug of choice’.

Note: * Based on poll data from Gallup.
            ** Distrust is being inferred from receiving Low or Very-Low trust rating.