Gygi: Lack of trust in institutions running high
The year 2020 is soon coming to a close, and it has been a doozy.
Take your pick of disastrous events: COVID, economic weakness as a result of COVID, a raucous presidential election season that is still not resolved satisfactorily, riots, cities and businesses being burned, Americans being attacked by Marxist-trained thugs, fake news, forced mask mandates, quarantines and lockdowns, and the resultant closures of businesses, some of which may never reopen again.
Some of these are legitimate crises, others not so much. But I want to talk to you about another crisis, one that is not a surprise to some of us. The crisis I am referring to is the utter lack of trust in most institutions, i.e., governments, private sector businesses both large and small, news media organizations, Hollywood and higher education.
I was born in the early 1960s and grew up in the ’70s. During this time most Americans got their news from three broadcast news outlets and a newspaper. We tended to trust these organizations not because they earned our trust but because we didn’t know any better and there weren’t a lot of other alternatives. Radio talk shows didn’t come along in force until the 1980s with Rush Limbaugh, the internet with everything available on it is a late ’90s phenomenon. The genie is out of the bottle for better or worse, and it is not going back in. We know too much and have been misled too often.
I started studying the millennials about a decade ago and came to appreciate their outlook only in the last couple of years. Much has been made of the millennials and their narcissistic attitude of not liking anything or anyone who came before them. It took me a while to figure out why they think this way and then it hit me. They are a product of the Bush and Obama eras. They hated the Gulf wars and it turns out they were ahead of the curve on that one. They were told to go to college and then there would be a job waiting for them. The Obama years came and their jobs were not there, but they still had tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of college debt. Can you blame them for not trusting what they have been told? They lived in their parents’ basements and could not see a way out.
This negative outlook on life, while not healthy, is understandable. They felt they had been lied to and it was the fault of their parents and everyone older than them. Fortunately, this has begun to change as they have started to find careers, they have begun to get married, and buy homes — all things which they had put off. This lack of trust in organizations has now been transferred to a much larger and diverse group of Americans. Diverse in age, race, religion, anything you can name.
Again, this mistrust is not wrong, and it didn’t start with President Trump — which means it won’t end with him either. The 2016 presidential election enraged supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders as they feel the primary and subsequent general election were stolen from him. By the way, they are not wrong.
The Trump administration years were the undoing for the mainstream news media. They used to be perceived as enablers for the Democratic Party. The Democrats would create a narrative, and the news media would pick it up and run with it, bias and all. Starting in 2016, the news media gave up any semblance of neutrality and became advocates for liberal causes. The news media became the Democratic Party’s handlers as the news organizations now created the narratives and the Democrat politicians took and ran with it. Same process, different roles.
The 2020 presidential election may seem over, but I don’t think it is. If a fraction of the fraud being alleged is true and not fixed with perpetrators being held accountable and going to jail, then at least 50-74 million Americans will not trust the election process perhaps ever again. The millennials’ lack of trust in institutions is now half the American populace, and it is not going away.
President-elect Joe Biden is asking for unity. Conservatives will not burn down cities and businesses and attack our fellow Americans like we witnessed this summer, but we will not quietly submit to our leaders in government, big tech and media either.
The sleeping dog has awoken and the “silent majority” is enraged. Good luck with putting this genie back in the bottle.