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When you go into a restaurant, you are trusting the people who work there to prepare food that you like, and that isn’t going to kill you. When you use a mechanic, you are trusting him or her to fix your car so that it doesn’t break down — or so that you don’t get into an accident. When you open an account at a bank, you are trusting the people there to protect your money and your investments. Trust is essential in all of those relationships. None of those things — the restaurant, the mechanic, the bank — would survive without trust. In a way, trust is what they sell. Same with government. In order to be legitimate, in order to be effective, governments need to be trusted by the citizens they serve. In war time, and particularly when they are under attack, citizens have a tendency to come together. To coalesce. Antiwar movements can and do happen, of course. Vietnam was a prime example. But that rarely happens right away. During wars, at the start, most people are onside with government. Not so this pandemic. Not anymore. With a few notable exceptions — New Zealand comes to mind — governments, democratic and otherwise, are increasingly disbelieved by their citizens.

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