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Why don’t we trust politicians?


About DJC

The older I get, the less I know and the more inquisitive I get.

Unfortunately, despite a lifelong search, most of the answers elude me. That said, I love to ask the questions and fuel the debates that will ultimately lead us all to a better understanding of the big issues in life, the universe and everything.

They say that we spend 98% of our lives in our head. I for one would like to use that time as effectively as possible.


Here are my top five reasons that politicians are not trusted -- and they all relate to behaviour.

In its annual survey to determine the most trusted professions, Roy Morgan recently found that politicians again languished near the bottom of the list. 

Do you trust politicians? Picture: Shutterstock.

Do you trust politicians? Picture: Shutterstock

The professions that Australians trust the most are:

  • Nurses – 94 percent
  • Medicos – 89 percent
  • Pharmacists – 84 percent
  • The three least-trusted professions are: 

  • Car sales people – 4 percent
  • Advertising people – 5 percent
  • Real Estate agents – 7 percent
  • 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:

  • Federal MPs – 16 percent
  • State MPs – 16 percent
  • 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:

  • The failure to answer questions asked of them
  • 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.

  • Constant over-reach
  • 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.

  • Saying one thing and doing another
  • 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.

  • Failing to communicate authenticity
  • 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.

  • Constantly shifting sands
  • 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?

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