Americans Want a President They Can Trust

Living through a pandemic has made that even more obvious.

On Tuesday, the Biden campaign released a video that was made up of clips of the candidate engaged in a listening session with a few small business owners.

That isn’t the most emotionally impactful video the campaign has produced, but I was struck by something that happened near the end when Biden asked, “What do you need most to help you now?” The woman who responded got a round of applause from the other participants when she said, “Clear, consistent language that the American people can trust.”

Political pundits can sometimes overthink what is going on with the electorate. But while that exchange is simply anecdotal, it might capture the heart of what is happening in the lead-up to the November election.

As of June 1st, the fact-checkers at the Washington Post say that Trump has told more than 19,000 lies over the last three and a half years. Following publication of that number they wrote that false claims and disinformation are the central feature of Trump’s presidency.

The president’s technique — refined over half a century in public life — is relentless and unforgiving: Never admit any error, constantly repeat falsehoods, and have no shame about your tactics…

As Trump runs for reelection, his unparalleled reliance on misleading and exaggerated claims has emerged as a defining feature of his boundary-busting presidency…

Every action in politics results in a reaction, so the immediate consequence of Trump may be a successor who distinguishes himself from Trump by refusing to engage in hyperbole and falsehoods.

Whenever political pundits draw their assumptions from the previous presidential election, they miss the truth captured by that last sentence. One of the most consistent things in politics is that, when it comes to presidential elections, the outcome is often a backlash to whatever it was that came to define the previous president. Nowhere was that more on display than the transition from Barack Obama to Donald Trump.

As the woman in Biden’s video captured, Americans are exhausted by the fact that they no longer know who to believe. Especially for people like small business owners and farmers, they have no idea about how to plan for the future. And the lack of trust leads to something Ezra Klein noted on Twitter.

Trumps’ lies result in failure—and then he lies some more to cover up those failures. Living through a pandemic has made that even more obvious to many Americans.

This is where Joe Biden’s history becomes significant. Even Republican politicians have said that he’s a man you can trust. That is the power behind ads like this.

After almost four years of Donald Trump, Americans are confused, scared, and exhausted. When it comes to a leader, they just want someone they can trust.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.