Edelman today released its handy “Trust Barometer,” a survey that shows trust in American business, government, NGOs and the media are in decline. It's a much different story overseas.
Trust either rose or held steady in nations across the globe. Sadly, the U.S. only topped corruption-riddled Russia in the trust category.
This blogger was especially taken aback by the sharp decline in the trust in the “person like yourself” category. Edelman found that trust in a PLY tumbled from the No. 3 slot in 2009 to No. 7 in '11. The PLY trust dive was even more striking among the 35-64 year demographic, plunging from 68 percent in '06 to 31 percent this year.
The No. 1 PR firm says the PLY downturn may be due to the potential “devaluation” in the definition of “friend.” It points out that Facebook users don’t personally know 20 percent of the people listed as friends on their page. That may certainly be the case. But the basic question remains: If you can’t trust a person like yourself, who can you trust?
How skeptical can we get?
Thank you, Edelman, for the timing of the Barometer's release. It's hoped that President Obama is briefed on the survey. During his State of the Union address tonight, Obama will talk of the need of civility in political life. Members of Congress, in turn, are going to cross the aisle to sit with colleagues from the other party. More is needed.
As cheerleader-in-chief, Obama should rally the nation about the need to trust each other in all facets of life. The U.S. had an awful first decade of the 21st Century. There were horrific terror attacks, wars, recession, job losses and a near financial collapse.
To move ahead, Obama should tackle the PLY trust deficit. He should tell Americans that we are all in it together as the nation moves from economic recovery to growth. If most Americans simply don’t trust themselves, worldwide competitors can pretty much write-off the U.S. as a player on the world’s stage.