Sustainable Politics depends on Trust

But when it comes to politics, where over 300 million people are affected, and the issues are many, complex and interdependent, systematic trust building is necessary.  Often, what is promised simply cannot be delivered in a short timeframe due to the complexity of the task and unanticipated roadblocks.  In this case, the best tool for building systematic trust is transparency.  It doesn’t help that the media likes to quote leaders out of context, taking promises made years ago and contrasting it with a shortfall clip of today, without explaining the complexities and direction change in between.  Adding to this are the emotional attachments to each political party’s historical branding.  To combat this requires a place where facts are displayed for all to see.   This would at least provide some basis for objective examination, even if political affiliations tend to be based on emotion rather than intellect.

Obama started pushing transparency in his administration with his Declaration of Transparency.  The reviews are mixed.  It’s better than before, but this TIME article criticizes the lack of total transparency by the administration on the item of White House visitor logs.  Indeed, even when it comes to transparency, there are many gray zones since there are national security concerns around transparency.  But federal program performance should be visible, and to a large extent, it is more visible today.  USAspending.gov provides information on where the government is spending money, while Data.gov provides various data sets from government agencies.  Recovery.gov tracks recovery dollar funded projects and results, and the coming-soon Performance.gov will provide reviews of agency performance that will be taken into consideration as the White House makes budgetary plans.

Today’s issues are complex and increasingly interrelated.  Transparency should a priority factor in trust building.  Everyone will have their own opinion when it comes to politics; check out this Bloomberg piece on CEO ratings of Obama’s performance.  So it’s imperative to provide all the information necessary so that people can make an informed opinion.  It's the essence of good, sustainable politics in today's skeptic environment.