Opinion / Second Opinions

Would an 'Immunity' Mandate Instill More Public Confidence?

4 min read
fairly difficult
Biden's sweeping vaccine mandates will only further erode public trust
Institutional trust is critical for the healthy functioning of government and society. Its erosion is likely complicit in the decline and fall of many old and historic civilizations including the Greeks, Romans, and dynastic Chinese. A few hundred years ago, the breaches of trust brought about by the ancien régime in the form of French Bourbon Kings or by England's George III were major factors in inciting the French Revolution and the U.S. War of Independence. Benjamin Disraeli, the 19th century prime minister who presided over the apogee of the British Empire, understood the larger ramifications of trust when he stated, "All power is a trust; that we are accountable for its exercise." In the U.S., institutional trust has been waning since the inception of its measurement in 1958.

Fast forward to current times where recent Pew data underscore the fact that only 24% percent of Americans actually "trust" the government. Given that dismal level of trust, it is perplexing why the government has decided to move forward with rigid, far-reaching COVID-19 vaccine mandates that will only serve to further erode public confidence.

The Erosion of Trust

In the U.S., we can draw a line from the Vietnam war all the way to the COVID-19 pandemic and easily mark where institutional trust may have been compromised. Within this arc, events and themes like Watergate, the failure of globalization to sustain the middle class, the Iraq war, the 2008 financial crises, racial injustice, and the final culmination of a protracted Afghan war have all played a role. The juxtaposition of far greater institutional transparency and the destabilizing echo chamber of social media are also to blame.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) asserts that citizens' trust is derived from an assessment of competence and values within public institutions. The values serve to inform and guide institutional action and they are in part guided by the principles of fairness,…
Jesse Pelletier, MD
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