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FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, DEC. 3, 2013
BY BOB FRANKEN
Is it me, or are many of the polls, particularly in a nonelection year, totally predictable? When the tea partyers force a partial government shutdown, they get hammered with widespread disapproval. When Barack Obama’s be-all-end-all health-care program craters at startup, the president’s numbers plummet. Important? Yes. Obvious? Also yes, and easy to ignore for anyone but the most fanatic political junkie.
But let’s hear it for The Associated Press, the wire service that commissioned an AP-GfK survey that tells us something really significant: By nearly a 2-to-1 margin, we don’t trust one another. Seventy-eight percent say they’re leery of anyone they just meet. And not surprisingly, 81 percent have little faith in those in and around the government in Washington.
That’s a big deal. A democracy like ours can thrive only with collaboration. When power is in the hands of the people, most of us are expected to do our parts and rely on our fellow citizens. Otherwise, we would end up with a hostile society and a system that doesn’t function very well. Wait, that’s what we have now.
We seem to be mired in suspicion. Worst of all, it’s justified. Wherever we turn, we’re confronted by hustlers, whether in the private world or in the public sector.
It’s really toxic when the dishonesty combines with incompetence, particularly in the government institutions that we pay dearly to serve us.
This brings us, of course, to the Obamacare rollout. No matter whether you believe that the Affordable Care Act ultimately will be a good thing, the unconscionable carelessness that resulted in its calamitous website debut means that it will take a long time before many are willing to wholeheartedly embrace the possibility that it will even work.
Even with the new assurances that the “vast majority” of those trying to sign up will now succeed, the half-vast startup after having three years to plan it leaves us all highly skeptical.