Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasian began work on the Coliseum of Rome in 69 AD. Upon completion of the Coliseum, his son Emperor Titus held 100-days and nights of festival in the Coliseum. Ostensibly to calm the masses after the civil unrest following the death of Emperor Nero, the Coliseum acted precisely as it was planned, distract the masses, while the emperor consolidated his power, undermined the Roman Senate, and set the stage for the end of the Roman Empire. Roman laws were built, originally, upon the consent of the governed until the emperors broke the law. The people rebelled, and before the squabbling senators could take control, the Roman government was subjugated to empirical rule. All historical facts, reflecting the power of the consent of the governed and a lesson upon which we can plot the future if we are brave enough to take action.
Consider for a moment what would have happened if a quorum of the Roman Senate had refused the emperor funds until the emperors relinquished powers they had stolen? What would have happened to the Coliseum if the people had rejected the “bread and circuses” offered by the emperor and demanded a return to the rule of law? The erection of the Coliseum is a dynamic point in history where we can see how the unjust powers of a government seal the fate of an entire nation, and the principle of operationalized trust can make a difference.
What is Trust?
Imperative to the following discussion is an understanding of the basics, and the basics require knowing what trust is, what trust does, and what trust is not. Webster defined trust as an obligation and a condition of having confidence placed upon another. Another definition for trust includes a firm belief in the integrity, ability, character, reliance, and having confidence in another person or thing. Hence, trust is not just a belief but a reliance, signifying there have been experiences shared that have proven trust in the fires of adversity, and the person or thing has been found worthy.
For example, in the US Army, when I went through Basic Training, you spent three days in a classroom learning about gas masks, chemical, biological, radiological warfare (CBR), and other tools for protecting yourself in a CBR environment. Then, you went to the “Confidence Chamber.” The Confidence Chamber was there to teach you to have confidence in your equipment; by putting you in first in your gas mask, then removing your gas mask, and experiencing tear gas, you learned to trust your equipment and have confidence that what you were learning could save you pain, misery, and hopefully your lives.
The Confidence Chamber also had another purpose that is often missed in the rigors of Basic Training but is as real as the air a person breathes, building trust in the chain of command. Asking people to do hard things, experience pain, puke their guts out, and all the other effects of the tear gas begins a trust cycle in the chain of command. As a soldier, you can trust your sergeants and officers, and they can trust you. Organizational trust begins with these basic experiences in basic training and hopefully grows as a soldier is trained.
Trust is not easily won but can be easily lost. Trust is not fully developed in a single transaction but can be germinated in a single transaction. Trust flourishes in two-directional learning paths among people, sharing experiences, time, and values. Trust is not a solution in and of itself, but it can be a magnifying power of other efforts in achieving resolution. Trust is a tool, but not a tool that can be employed by itself. For example, a screwdriver can be force multiplied by a wrench; trust is the same; it is the wrench that multiplies the power of other tools to accomplish work.
What is Operationalized Trust?
Establishing relationships requires the principles of organizational trust, as detailed by Du, Erkens, and Xu (2018), who found when supervisors trust their subordinates, regardless of whether supervisors have a general propensity to trust others or trust subordinates due to previous transactions and social similarity, customer service is significantly improved. Operationalized trust is nothing but using a trust relationship to improve a shared or common goal. For example, a business wants better customer satisfaction, so the supervisors use trust between themselves and their employees to increase service quality, promoting enhanced service satisfaction.
Incredibly, the first principle to empowering operational trust is social similarity, which provides the breeding grounds for shared social interactions—knowing where someone originates and if they share values is critical to initiating, building, and maintaining trust propensity. The second principle for empowering operational trust is extreme oversight; micro-management kills trust relationships and kills individual initiative, individual agency, and individual moral. A corollary finding is that efficient use of existing control systems is not objectionable or harmful to trust propensity. This is a critical finding in organizational trust, in that existing controls are acceptable. When taken to extremes, the consent of the governed is rejected, and the controls become the problem killing the initiative. Collocation and less stringent controls breed trust propensity that develops organizational trust, improving how people work, or to put it more simply, less strict controls, combined with people sharing similar backgrounds, opens organizational trust and breeds consent of the governed into productivity.
Consent of the Governed Rests Upon the Following Principles
As a reminder, the fundamental principles of a free society, a liberty first culture, and the consent of the governed rest upon the following, which should be returned to often and refreshed daily by the elected officials in government to feed operational trust in a free society and liberty-based government.
“No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles” [emphasis mine].
- Justice: Decency to all as a behavior of equality and commitment to moral rightness.
- Moderation: This is all about not going to extremes, being restrained, knowing the boundaries and staying within limits, and being reasonable and approachable.
- Temperance: While primarily used in drinking alcohol, this also applies to any behaviors where self-restraint, moderation, and expressions or observance of temperate behaviors are required.
- Frugality: Besides being a good steward of other people’s resources, being frugal requires being sparing, prudent, economical, thrifty, and reserved.
- Virtue: Requires moral excellence, modesty, personal dignity, goodness, and conformity to a standard of righteousness.
Putting it all Together
The consent of the governed is built upon the intermingled trust between people as a body electing government officers and people representing those elected as government officers. The problems have arisen because many in public office have refused to accept the government of those who elected them and have served only themselves and the monied interests buying their time. Thus, trust propensity in government has dropped to disastrous levels. Adding to the problem are the accumulated actions of previously elected officials who have set a pattern for personal wealth by tax and spend, supporting political cronies, and gerrymandering system to protect them from negative election results. The trust between people of shared values has been broken by those elected, who never shared values, who refuse to live in their home districts, and whose time and the highest bidder can purchase interests. Thus, is it any wonder that people no longer believe the lies of government are restless and agitated?
The consent of the governed is a precious commodity that has been squandered by those who should have held that precious resource as a mother holds her child—protecting, nurturing, and feeding the consent of the governed to build trust propensity against a time when a pandemic or natural disaster would occur. Where the government would need to act in a difficult manner. Instead, hypocrisy has been witnessed from the government leaders and the monied interests purchasing the politician’s time, and the people refuse their consent to be governed. Where do we see the refusal of consent to be governed; how is the health of the US Dollar and other national currencies? That is not just inflation blowing up prices, confidence in the future has been shaken, and confidence is the visual representation of the consent of the governed.
Where else do we see the consent of the governed being refused? Recently an Olympiad was held, the government of the US held hearings of great import on legislative matters to conflict with the Olympiad to hide scheduled legal hearings as smoke and mirrors. When Kevin Durant and Draymond Green called the media out for failing to cover the Olympics, they missed the target; the people they should be denouncing are the politicians trying to distract further, confuse, and cause chaos.
President Obama proved one thing while in office when you choose to hold hearings is as important as the content of the hearings, the legislation, and the political gamesmanship. Paying attention to all of the tricks and media hyperbole is all but impossible, and in the confusion, theft occurs. But, the law of unintended consequences means that the consent of the governed takes a beating when these tactics are played, and soon polls will show a more significant drop in approval ratings. (Remember how jock itch has a higher approval rating than Congress?) Politicians will scramble, the media will try and explain the findings, but the result is always the same, the consent of the governed is being removed at a more rapid pace, and every politician of a representative government needs to start paying attention!
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
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