Over the past years, researchers have documented a decline in confidence and gratification with the performance of ruling governments in both developed and developing states, predicting the adverse outcome for the future of democracy. Until recently, governments and other parastatals used resource availability and output as indicators of performance. However, increase in attention to responsible accountability and the relationship between input and output by citizens characterize today’s situation. Information on the performance of different departments and programs of the government no longer gratifies philosophers and citizens but instead ask for knowledge about governance as a whole. The primary aim of this paper is to explore the cause of a decline in trust in the government by a citizen. The paper will also explain the importance of trust and give recommendations on the possible ways of regaining trust.
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Trust in an important aspect in the successful running of any government. Lack of confidence, therefore, affects the voluntary ability of countrymen and the business community to respond to government policies that enable rational economic recovery. Researchers explain the importance of trust by citizens to be important in many development aspects of the economy.
Trust in different arms of the government affects individual behavior in aspects that lead to desired policy outcome, (Hetherington 2). The desired outcome may range from minor government programs such as involvement in immunization campaigns to major policies of tax payment. Through trust, citizens can forego some immediate benefits if they have a positive expectation in the long-term effect of the public program either for their individual benefit or the common good of the country.
With trust, investors and consumers are confident. A proper functioning government matters to the business community. Many investors participate where there is a value attached to citizens hence decisions that harness economic growth. Scholars have also linked trust to increased compliance with the general rules and regulation. This aspect is important because it reduces the cost of enforcement. Rules and regulations do not eliminate abuse. However, the degree to which people see them as fair may improve compliance without enforcement.
Confidence in policies and performance of the government has declined. Nye, Zelikow, and King (1), explain that in 1964, three-quarters of the general American population knew that the federal government was able to do the right thing. However, to date, only a quarter of the population believes in their government. The cause of the declining trust in the government by citizens today can be explained looking at the value attached to the society by the government and satisfaction attained by citizens from policy and performance.
Performance-based theory can explain the lack of trust in the government. This perception involves the ability of a state to effectively respond to various policies related to the value of citizens. Different policies that include public policies, corruption, scandals and how politicians are represented by the media affect the trust that citizens have in their government. The government is responsible for minimizing uncertainty in the economic, social and political environments. However, uncertainties and crisis pose questions on the degree of citizen’s trust in the government. Failure to shield them from such conditions and Psychological factors resulting from situations such as unemployment pose an adverse impact on the confidence of citizens in the ruling governments. Here any shift in the economy of the country adversely affects the general population that leads to the general population perceiving that the government does not value them.
Value and expectations also play a significant role in the declining trust in the government. Social and political values of the new generation have shifted from “materialist” concerns of their parents and grandparents to “post-materialist” values. The older generation valued economic prosperity, safety, and the general security. However, the new generation values freedom and quality of life which gradually wear off respect for the government hence reducing public support for the government.
Trust occurs in three different levels that include Macro, Meso, and Micro levels and dressing them requires considering its causes at all levels. The macro level involves political institutions and democracy, Meso level that involves policy making and the micro level that involves the effect the government policy poses on the daily living of the people. Trust does not just happen to the government, but the government should impact it through actions and policies. It is also important to note that influencing trust does not only involve public policy but for whom and with whom is made, (Vigoda-Gadot 196).
Winning back the trust also involves various critical areas that include;
- Reliability; by fulfilling its responsibility, citizens will put more trust in their government.
- Responsiveness; trust in the government, depends on the degree of public service available. Government increase in engaging with citizens will ensure quality that will lead to trust.
- Openness; it improves trust since citizens fill they are in control through involvement and participation in policy formulation.
- Better regulation; regulation by putting in mind justice and fairness for all citizens will increase trust.
- Inclusive policy making; citizen involvement in a decision-making process improves trust between government and citizens.
- Integrity; It is a major factor for developing trust. Integrity increases trust through value-based decision framework.
The experience of governmental challenges in finance, economic and social conditions has been the order of various researchers. However, philosophers explain that better crisis management is possible with trust. Understanding and improving trust therefore is important for crisis management that will result in the general development of any country
Hetherington, Marc J. “why political trust matters.” Why Trust Matters: Declining Political Trust and the Demise of American Liberalism. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2005. 1(1), 1-7. Print.
Nye, Joseph S, Philip Zelikow, and David C. King, “the decline of confidence in government.” Why People Don’t Trust Government. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1997. 1(1), 1-16. Print.
Vigoda-Gadot, Eran. “Building a strong nation by effective governability in democratic cosmos.” Building Strong Nations: Improving Governability and Public Management; Farnham: Ashgate, 2009, 9(1), 195-199. Print.