What we're seeing here is not merely distrust in the House health-care reform bill. It's distrust in the political system. A healthy relationship does not require an explicit detailing of the "institutional checks" that will prevent one partner from beating or killing the other. In a healthy relationship, such madness is simply unthinkable. If it was not unthinkable, then no number of institutional checks could repair that relationship. Similarly, the relationship between the protesters and the government is not healthy. The protesters believe the government capable of madness. There is no evidence for that claim, which means that there is no answer for it, either.In my field, we divide trust into three different types (Barney & Hansen, 1994). The first, called weak form trust, results from two parties in a relationship not being vulnerable to each other. This is really more indifference than trust. The second, semi-strong form trust, is where two parties to a relationship trust the other party to do what they have agreed to do; this is the trust of contract law, enforced by formal governance and law. Strong form trust, the third form, is where the parties have the power to act opportunistically, but trust each other not to. We see this mostly in very good friendships and strong marriages. Arguably, just having a joint checking account is strong-form trust.
There are Americans who don't trust the government at all. But I think the main stream American attitude towards the government -- which is to say, towards our fellow citizens -- is to trust the government to do what it is legally bound to do, and no more. It is inconceivable to me that many Americans could have strong-form trust in the government; that many Americans believe that, in situations in which it can act opportunistically, that shifting set of coalitions we call a government will act in their own best interest. Of course, that I believe that strong-form trust in the government is inconceivable is likely tied to my preference for limited government.
Given my semi-strong form trust in government, nationalized health care seems like a bad joke. There are two many situations that will occur that we haven't, and can't, tie the government's hands. There are too many ways that the government, or the controlling coalition of the day, can act opportunistically and little chance that it won't. We need only look at the public schools -- where opportunistic choices are routinely made for the benefit of the teachers and administrators -- to understand my worry about a decision to (strong-form) trust the government with my family's health care and 14% of the economy.