Trust Is Not Binary

[T[he other option is to support someone who is corrupted and dishonest that even people in her campaign don’t trust her, as well as the majority of the public don’t trust her. Someone who mishandled information with the purpose of hiding the truth.

People, many people, say that they don’t trust Hillary Clinton.

Oddly enough, I trust Donald J. Trump. I know that at least half of what he will say will be verifiably false. I know that if Hillary baits him, a loss of composure is almost inevitable. If you call him a misogynist, he will absolutely roar that no one respects women more than him. (And the audience will roar in laughter, but that’s another issue.)

I’m kidding. I might predict what Trump will do, but that doesn’t mean I trust him in any meaningful way. He’s a liar, a braggart, and a bully.

I don’t know what surveys say about how many people “trust” Hillary Clinton. She’s guilty of appallingly poor judgement over the personal e-mail server issue. She was caught embellishing the story  of — or outright lying about — landing in the former Yugoslavia once. She apparently can be short and curt in her dealings with people. OK, she’s not perfect. Neither am I.

I myself am not a trusting person. I have uncomfortable memories of times I tried to trust people and was hurt for my efforts. So, I try to understand people’s motives and try to count on their allegiance to their own self-interest, not any debt to me or any goodness allegedly in their hearts. I hope they have goodness in their hearts, but I don’t count on it; I don’t trust it.

Some people say she did something shady with a failed savings and loan while she was the First Lady of Arkansas. Folks were convicted in that case, but not her, nor her husband. Folks want to hold her accountable for the suicide of an attorney, Vince Foster, but repeated investigations into that death yielded no charges against her. Her husband cheated on her marriage, and she attributed some of the rumors about that and attention to that to a vast right-wing conspiracy. It turns out, she was only half-right. There was a vast right-wing conspiracy, but her husband was guilty of at least some of what he was accused of in that context.

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you,” has to be matched with, “Just because they’re out to get you doesn’t mean you’re exonerated of their charges.” She and her husband are guilty of a small part of what they are accused of. They have shown poor judgement here and there, both in the folks who got busted for Whitewater and for the e-mail server she wanted so she wouldn’t have to carry two Blackberry phones, presumably among many other less known lapses in judgement.

Does that mean she’s fundamentally untrustworthy, that she’s fundamentally corrupt? Should we assume that when she spoke truth to power in Beijing at a women’s rights conference (has it really been almost two decades?) that she was doing so out of some nefarious self-interest we aren’t aware of? Is she running for President out of some greed for power and personal enrichment?

Of course not.

She and her husband are now wealthy. They’ve both been well paid for speeches and other things since leaving the White House (the first time). I believe they were literally poor at the end of his Presidency, at least partly because of the massive legal bills thanks to their enemies persecution of them. Yes, they recovered financially. Yes, she is clearly ambitious, not resting on their collective laurels but running for the Senate, serving in the Obama Administration, and now running for President. But I don’t think her self-interests are inherently in conflict with mine.

Secrecy is implicitly difficult to keep. The odds of a secret spilling is proportional to the square of the number of people in on the secret. The so many things Hillary (and Bill) are accused of involve so many alleged co-conspirators, it’s hard to believe no one has met the legal requirements to convict her if she is actually guilty of some crime. Frankly, if she’s guilty of half of what she’s accused of, she should have been running the CIA, not State!

Would I trust her advice on who I should trust for real estate development investments? Probably not; she has a poor track record in that field. Ethical advice about burdensome bureaucratic regulations? Maybe not without second opinions. But do I trust her not to lie to my face on national television? Yes, I do.

Is the Clinton Foundation some slush fund for their own aggrandizement? Most sources say, “no,” that it works directly on major causes. It’s Trump whose foundation is corrupt in a few different ways.

Some people trust other people who don’t want any of us to trust Hillary, Bernie, Barack, or any other progressive or liberal. I don’t know why people trust Limbaugh, Hannity, Reilly, or Faux News. Maybe it reinforces their instincts and biases. Where would those instincts and biases have come from? It’s hard to say, but a lack of critical thinking is almost surely part of that equation.

I don’t trust anyone completely. Not myself; I know I’ve made too many mistakes, and I know I don’t take care of my body like I should. I mostly trust my siblings, but they, too, are fallible, so I “trust, but verify,” which isn’t trust at all. Managers at work? Usually our interests align, but not always, and my trust of them reflects them. Trusting them to do what’s best for me isn’t the same as trusting them to do what I want them to do for me, so I can’t trust them to do both all the time; it just isn’t possible. Friends? Mostly I trust them, except when I risk exposing some embarrassment for them. It’s not malicious; it’s just human nature.

So, if I say I don’t literally completely trust Hillary, that’s not a shocking statement. I don’t trust the guy I quoted at the top of this essay, nor do I trust his “sources” of his proof of his belief.

Trust is not binary. It’s relative and granular. Anyone who tries to prove otherwise… isn’t to be trusted.

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