Trump Tuesday -- And Trust
I’m thinking about $4 million. That’s how much money the Trump camp has brought in since New York DA Alvin Bragg’s office reached out to Trump to let him know he’d have to turn himself in. Leaving the politics out of it, one thing is clear: Trump’s ability to turn accusations into donations will go down in fundraising history.
That brings me to the most recent edition of the Edelman Trust Index. It’s been on my reading list for a bit, but the next chapter in the Trump show drew me inexorably to thinking about trust.
Trust is a fundamental aspect of human interaction. When trust is present, people feel safe, secure, and confident in their relationships and in the world around them. But when trust is absent, people feel anxious, uncertain, and vulnerable. In recent years, trust has become an increasingly important issue, as individuals and institutions struggle to navigate a complex and rapidly changing world.
Hence the Trust Index and its shifting sands. The Edelman Trust Index is an annual survey that measures the level of trust that people have in institutions such as businesses, government, NGOs, and media. The survey is based on the responses of over 33,000 people from 28 countries, making it one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys of its kind. The Edelman Trust Index was first launched in 2001 by Edelman Public Relations.
In January, the Index revealed that business is now viewed as the only global institution to be both competent and ethical. Business now holds a staggering 53-point lead over government in competence, and is 29 points ahead on ethics.
So do Americans trust Trump more or less than politicians overall?
A Reuters/Ipsos poll came up with some interesting dichotomies. About half of Americans believe the New York case against Trump is politically motivated, but a large majority find the allegations believable. Seventy percent of respondents, and half of Republicans, believed that Trump paid Stormy Daniels for her silence. And 62% of respondents, including a remarkable third of Republicans, believed that Trump committed fraud.
Which is to say, they don’t trust politicians, and so, while Trump may be a liar and a fraud, he’s no worse than any of them, if you believe the Trust Index.
Trust is on the decline, accelerated by the relentless drumbeat calling provable facts "fake" and claims of stolen elections and microchips in COVID vaccine injections.
In a world that amplifies anxiety, hate, and vulnerability for profit, we find ourselves shifting from trust to trepidation. And that rising tide of distrust is certain to create an environment of polarization, with all its inevitable outcomes.