Taking action could restore public trust

The one that got away
January 10, 2012
Roy Ivey
January 13, 2012

Public confidence in elected officials fell to an all-time low in 2011, as reflected in a Pew Research poll when 59 percent of responders stated that they are frustrated with government.

Politicians, elected officials and those that work off taxpayer dollars have never really had a good reputation, even though in the 1950s nearly 80 percent of Americans said they trusted government. By 1964, that number slipped to 75 percent when cultural changes swept the nation.

Then the Vietnam War, Watergate scandal, energy crisis, soaring inflation and a turning economy soured public opinion to the degree that by 1976, only 33 percent of Americans said they trusted government.

During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, a wave of patriotic pride combined with a positive economic outlook boosted public opinion to the level that only 34 percent said they were frustrated with government. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on American a score of 66 percent represented a rebound of public trust in government, to a level not seen for more than three decades. Each of those high points was short lived.

During this past week, elected officials on state and parish levels were administered an oath to office. Those who spent months campaigning delivered expected rhetoric about changes that were needed. They have now been granted an opportunity to follow through on their claims about how they individually could make our communities better places to live.

In his inaugural address on Monday, Gov. Bobby Jindal told those in attendance that he faced challenges when he initially came to office. He also told those that witnessed his accepting a second term what critics had said Louisiana could not do and went on to proclaim that the work was not finished.

The returning governor offered a positive talk, but the one detail he missed was providing details.

It is specific results that the voting public wants. When politicians proclaim they are results oriented they should prove it.

During a ceremony for elected officials in Terrebonne Parish, Rev. Sam Jacobs, bishop of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, told new and returning office holders they have a choice of living and performing their work based on what seems politically correct at the time or by doing what is ethically right for all times. We agree.

Success in the private sector or with public entities, where both employees and employers or representatives and constituents exist, comes only when those involved follow through on what they claim they can and will do.

We call on those who have been sworn into public office to be results oriented. Let action stand above rhetoric. Only then will progress be made on the parish, state and national levels. Only then might public confidence in government be, to some degree, restored.