It’s clear, with the charges against noted campaign finance advocate Leland Yee, that good government and campaign finance reform groups that gave him awards have lost the public’s trust. I call upon them need to take steps to win it back.
It’s also clear that, given Yee’s strong support among First Amendment advocates, press freedom groups that gave him awards also need to restore the public’s trust in them. I call upon those First Amendments to adopt a program to win that trust back.
And what should we say about gun control advocates, who are clearly sullied by Yee’s support for gun control? Any abuse of trust by a gun control advocate is, of course, a violation of the public trust by all such advocates. I call upon them to take steps to win back the public’s trust.
Do such statements seem silly and unfair on their face?
Well, they are no more out of bounds than what’s being said about the legislature in the wake of Yee’s arrest and indictment.
Take for example, the statement that California Forward put out, called The Path Toward Trust.
California Forward (CA Fwd), in the wake of two State Senators being indicted and another being convicted, has released a proposal for actions that can be taken immediately by the state Legislature to restore trust in government. The proposal, titled, “The Path Toward Trust,” is designed to accelerate and focus the State’s response to the scandals.
CA Fwd, a nonpartisan effort dedicated to improving accountability and trust in government, believes every violation of the law by a public official is also a violation of the public trust.
This isn’t just a California Forward thing. In recent weeks, guilt by association has become a rhetorical standard, across the spectrum. The logic – a word I use advisedly here– is that because three state senators are in trouble, the whole legislature must be corrupt.
That’s not only nonsense (Leland Yee, in particular, seems to have lived a double life that fooled a lot of people). It’s also unfair to the other 117 members of the legislature and their staffers, most of whom are honest and doing the best they can.
This kind of rhetorical approach is also counterproductive. If your goal really is building trust in the legislature, tarring the many for the sins of the few probably isn’t going to work. That strategy also isn’t going to convince those lawmakers to support whatever reforms you want.
It’d be better if we all attended to our own glass houses first.