Yes We Can! The Future of an Illusion

The Collapse Continues — According to a Gallup report, monthly job approval ratings for President Obama declined steadily through most of 2013, including a three-percentage-point drop in March likely related to the budget-sequestration controversy.

obama approval

We’ve seen similar trends in the public perceptions of other elected officials and social institutions. As I’ve written in the past, these survey results provide snapshots of a long-running, change-resistant and extensively documented trend fed by powerful cultural and political undercurrents. The latest AP-NORC survey (published on January 2, 2014) asked respondents if they feel confident about government’s ability to make progress on 11 policy priorities (see below). The percentage of respondent giving the government a “No Confidence” vote ranged from 63% to 88%.


It’s Getting Personal — The collapse of trust not only shakes institutions; it also weakens human bonds in day-to-day interactions. According to AP-GfK, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted, and a record high of nearly two-thirds say “you can’t be too careful” in dealing with people.

I believe that many individuals, businesses, elected officials and regulators continue to underestimate the implications of the broad-based erosion of trust. Neither governments nor corporations have opened themselves to the type of fundamental changes that public sentiment clearly necessitates. As a result, we are free-falling into the future we fear, a future without trust.