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November 11, 2008

Trust and the future of the free world

You have to wonder - in the formerly all-white world of American politics how did a black guy, from a one parent family, with a funny name, rise to hold the most powerful job in the world?

I'm sure that people far more qualified than me will be pondering this for ages but my take on it is that - it doesn't matter. It never did.

He won, in part, because he won peoples trust. he spoke eloquently, he took the foreground in the crises that struck the US even during the campaign, he was tested more than most others against a powerful politician in Hilary Clinton.

And slowly but surely, one person at a time, one issue at a time - they came to trust him. They trusted that he was capable enough to deal with the dire crisis that faces the US right now.

But that was only part of the equation... they also did not trust John McCain.

Not his honesty, nor his character. I don't think anyone doubts that his achievements and his life of service are anything but truly honorable.

But we doubted his judgment. We doubted his choice of VP, we weren't consoled by his solutions to the economic crisis, and we wondered what he was thinking with the on again off again campaign. We wondered why he didn't do more when the Democrats were still fighting it out.

But more than anything else, we had doubts about the company he kept.

We had trusted them before. They were going to keep us safe and be fiscally responsible. Now, 8 years later, with the spending in ruins, two wars blazing away with no clear way out of them, Katrina and the collapse of the financial system... well... we don't trust them anymore.

It didn't happen overnight. Loss of trust never does. It took years, one issue at a time, one person at a time and then when it finally came it was dramatic.

Was it trust of mistrust that finally scored the victory? I have no clue, but both were definitely a factor.

Trust is hard to gain. But once your clients trust you they will forgive your errors and even defend you if you get into trouble.

It is hard to lose somebodies trust once you have it.

But if, over time, they finally do decide that they don't trust you; then they will never pass additional work your way again.

In fact, if they ever get the opportunity they will actively campaign against you!