“People don’t trust government, major corporations or even their neighbors anymore,” he says from his studios in Austin. “It’s a complete loss of trust, so people seek bona fide proof of any claim. The Internet has opened up huge new worlds of communication, from the absurd to good, thought-provoking information, but people just don’t know what to believe, so they don’t believe a word of it. They don’t believe a word Mitt Romney says, and they don’t believe what Barack Obama says.”
Given the coverups, changing stories, shattered campaign promises, corporate fraud covered up by high-level government officials... what's to trust?
The more Americans mistrust politics, the news media, business and virtually every other major institution, the more demand there is for the documents, the proof, the evidence we need to get to the “real truth.”
But we never quite get there.
Romney's tax return, Obama's birth certificate don't provide anything that resolves our issues of trust in these guys or their backers.
“The Post Modern Consumer just doesn’t believe us anymore. They have endured too many empty promises, too many exaggerated benefits, and too many artful disclaimers.” So concludes Flint McGlaughlin, a Florida-based marketing researcher whose firm, Meclabs, has conducted thousands of experiments aimed at figuring out what kinds of messages can still get through to skeptical Americans....
Voters are more skeptical than ever, but that demands greater accountability, Miller argues. “Democracy is messy,” she says. “But disclosure opens society to a more robust debate.”
Debate is of course essential to an effective democracy, but so is trust, the foundation of any compromise or consensus. Putting documents out there is always a good move; Romney’s father, George, released 12 years of his tax returns when he ran for president nearly half a century ago, and the past 20 years have brought a sort of tax-return-disclosure arms race in which candidates have released five, 10, 20 or more years’ worth of records.
But without a basic compact of belief between the governed and the government, even towering stacks of paper won’t clear the air. Right now, that compact just isn’t there.