In its annual survey to determine the most trusted professions, Roy Morgan recently found that politicians again languished near the bottom of the list.
Why don’t we trust politicians?
The professions that Australians trust the most are:
The three least-trusted professions are:
Having spent 20 years in the advertising industry, I can assure you, dear reader, that five percent is too high!
Meanwhile, our politicians rate towards to bottom, as follows:
In my view, this is very generous. But it is low and given the importance of politicians to our quality of life, it seems important to know why politicians are distrusted and what makes them untrustworthy.
I have no doubt the distrust of politicians -- as of the three lowest-ranked professions on the list --relates to preconceptions, historical myths and fashion. People who never think about politics and cannot name a politician are very likely to mistrust one, suggesting that such beliefs often have little to do with an assessment of facts.
Very often, the mistrust of politicians is an emotional rather than intellectual position, lacking any factual foundation. The common view that no politician can be trusted is evidence of this. It is highly probable that some politicians, like some in every profession, are untrustworthy. At the same time, it is highly improbable and an emotional position to suggest that all politicians can't be trusted.
Misconceptions aside, I believe there are some very good reasons that the majority of people don't trust politicians as a whole. I also believe many of these reasons are justified and the majority of politicians earn this mistrust.
Here are my top five reasons that politicians are not trusted, and all of them relate to the behaviour:
Media managers train politicians how to avoid answering troublesome questions -- while not appearing to obfuscate. I never trust anyone who doesn't answer a direct question with a direct response. People notice questions being avoided.
Politicians suggest over and over that everything the Opposition says is wrong, and that everyone in another party is bad. This is patently absurd! There is good and bad, right and wrong, in every group. It is hard to trust a politician who says ''what Australians want is'', when we all know they don’t know.
Those that lie give everyone a bad name. Few do, but they affect the image of everyone when caught. But often, politicians express views that are inconsistent with their own, to gain the support of others central to delivery or party views.
So many politicians seem to lose their authenticity, while others never had it. Too many of them listen to media advisors and tell the audience what they think they want to hear. It is impossible to trust a person who is so obviously an automation.
Politicians have a habit of appearing to change their position over time. Sometimes, they do it for sound reasons, which they all too rarely explain. Other times, their views change for populist or political reasons. It is hard to trust anyone who appears to change a view without a rational explanation.
I don’t trust politicians who do any of these things. I don’t think they are bad people, I just don't trust them. Very often I agree with their politics and still don't trust them. It's these factors and not their political views that impact on my trust.
Do you trust politicians? If, not why not?