Friday, April 23, 2010

Can You Trust Your Legislators?

The answer, according to a recent Pew Research Survey, is a resounding "no." In fact, just 22% of respondents believed that they could trust government in Washington all or most of the time.

This saddens the Advocacy Guru for a number of reasons, the most of important of which is that effective advocacy requires an environment of mutual trust. In other words, to achieve your policy goals, your legislators must trust that you are giving them good information. At the same time, you must trust that your legislators can and will do what you identify as "the right thing," especially after you've made your case

But how is this trust possible when a majority of Americans (52%) believe that the political system can work fine, it's the members of Congress that are the problem? Or when at least 76% believe that elected officials in Washington 1) care only about their careers; 2) are influenced by special interests; 3) are unwilling to compromise, and 4) are profligate and out-of-touch?

There's a glimmer of hope, though, in the findings. That glimmer is the fact that most Americans (56%) find themselves to be more frustrated with government than they are actually angry. This to me is a good thing because, frankly, there's something I can do about frustration.

So, how can we fix this? Next week I'll post information on what politicians and citizens can do to improve the level of trust. So stay tuned! In the meantime, if you're interested in this topic, check out the new Partnership for a More Perfect Union. They might have some answers!

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