Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Good System, Bad People?

Congressional approval ratings languish at historic lows (today, around 13%).   Yet, on average over the past 10 cycles, U.S. voters have returned their representatives to Congress at a rate of 93.7%.  This means that Americans either hate all members of Congress but their own, or think the system is broken.
The latest Pew poll suggests that it is the former.  Strong majorities across party lines believe our political system works fine, but individual members are the problem.  
Many political commentators claim otherwise.  The members they meet and interact with all seem reasonable and well intentioned in person -- but, they opine, polarized Washington system infected with special interests, campaign money, and dominating political parties prevents them from pursing compromise in the public interest. 
Why does the public see things so differently?  Perhaps they want to believe that elections can solve our problems?  Perhaps they see faith in the system as a patriotic, unshakeable American value? 
This data suggests that those seeking systemic reform have some convincing to do. 

1 comment:

  1. And yet, there is an incredibly low percentage of people saying even that their own representative should be re-elected. The polling report says only 31% of those polled last month thought their rep. should be re-elected and 49% thought it was time for a new person, available here So maybe people do see the system as the problem and just don't recognize it as such--or fear that saying so means they are somehow impermissibly criticizing our constitutional scheme of government.