Calling All Presidential Hopefuls

Skeptical and cynical Americans need to trust and have confidence in you

Mark Goulston
3 min readMar 19, 2023

Read my lips: It’s not about your hopes to become President, it’s about being a President that succeeds in causing a skeptical and cynical America to feel hopeful.

If you want to connect with Americans, at least a mere 99 percent of them, you need to deal with a psychological reality that you are missing or at best disingenuously paying lip service to.

What you need to get is what people really want and need, but don’t believe is possible given their general view of politicians.

A legitimate Presidential candidate will be someone who can gain/earn and then retain the trust and confidence of a skeptical and cynical America.

What people who lack trust and confidence need to see in actions vs. words from their elected officials is not rocket science.

It’s a demonstrated and verifiable track record. After all, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.


To trust you, people need to see a demonstrated and verifiable track record of you:

  • Doing what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it vs. disappointing your constituency and then making excuses, deflecting blame or responsibility off yourself.
  • At the first sign of not being able to do it, notifying everyone it adversely affects and coming up with alternatives and their rationales.
  • Not hurting, taking advantage or exploiting people.
  • Never pursuing your own personal, self-serving ambitious and politically driven agenda if it is at the cost of serving your full constituency.
  • Never compromising your duty-bound promises to serve your constituency (i.e. the entire American population) in favor of political expediency.
  • Taking full responsibility for anything that happens under your watch (i.e. JFK taking responsibility for the Bay of Pigs debacle).


To have confidence in you, people need to see a demonstrated and verifiable track record of you:

  • Doing what you promised.
  • Having and making good judgement calls especially with regard to people selection, strategy and crises (to borrow from: Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis)
  • Doing what serves the greater and common good rather than only the haves and have nots or other segments without consideration of the entirety.
  • Being a crucial and key force and factor in getting it done vs. your taking credit for serendipity.
  • Successfully leading and guiding what served our national and domestic security and interests through perilous waters.

Something few politicians truly understand or appreciate is the fear that permeates people who are feeling distrustful and lacking confidence in you.

That is because when people are dependent on you, they are at your mercy and if they don’t perceive you as truly understanding and caring about them — in actions not words — beyond a politically correct and opportune sound bite, they live with frustration, fear, inertia and cynicism.

Whichever of you becomes our next president, be someone and do something that results in our being able to trust and have confidence in you.

That would make us hopeful.

If you can do that, you might even be able to make us proud.

And that is something we need as much as hope.


A skeptic is someone who once trusted and had confidcence and was disappointed;

A cynic is someone who once trusted and had confidence and was deceived;

But inside all skeptics and even most cynics is a deep hunger to trust and have confidence again, but do so without the worry of being disappointed or deceived again.



Mark Goulston

Dr. Goulston is the world's #1 listening coach and author of "Just Listen" which became the top book on listening in the world