Have We Always Hated Congress?

Posted by & filed under Controlled by Parties, Culture of Corruption, Fixing Congress, Hyperpartisan


Given recent approval ratings and the consistent negative narrative about Congress online in blogs, social media and the mainstream media, it would seem that we’ve been hating on Congress for a long time. It has been a while, but it didn’t used to be this way.  An article in the Washington Post takes a look at a recent poll from Gallup (pegging Congress’ current approval rating at 16%) and our historical feelings for the legislative branch of government. See the graph above. Look at 1975, 1998 and 2002. Read the full article, but here’s a choice excerpt:

Former Rep. Tom Davis (R), who left the House in 2008, argued that Congress has shown little ability to get things done and, when they have done something, it’s proven to be unpopular.

“Congress has produced nothing but bad outcomes,” said Davis. “Two failed wars, stagnant wages [and] economic meltdown”

A look back at the last seven or so years of Congressional action/inaction proves Davis’ point. Among the high/lowlights: the failed attempt to overhaul Social Security, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, the Mark Foley page scandal, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the healthcare slog, the budget showdown, the debt ceiling fight and the failure of the supercommittee.

That’s a murderer’s row of bad news and embarrassing moments that would lead any thinking person to conclude that Washington is not only broken but that the very people elected to fix it have no clue of how to do so. (Make sure you read Ezra Klein’s riff on why this is the worst Congress ever.)

Interestingly, but not surprising, from the Gallup poll Independent voters have the lowest approval rating of Congress (just 13%) as contrasted to Democrat (18%) and Republican voters (14%) polled.


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One Response

  1. James Windle July 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I am running for Congress as an Independent. I also taught a graduate course on “How Congress Works.” I spent a lot of time considering the paradox in our views in Congress. People hate Congress but like their member of Congress. This is because members can serve their constituents in legislation by helping them in the tax code or secure federal spending for a project. This means a member can do nothing to move the nation forward, which is what is happening, but do enough to be re-elected. I have been telling voters on the trail they should have higher expectations of their members. An incumbent who has been in office for multiple terms should be held accountable for the state of the nation. We need Independents who are, well, more independent-minded. http://www.windleforcongress.com


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