Last year, I wrote an article about Congress and their abysmal approval rating of 10% at the time. I even thought that perhaps, maybe just maybe, they’d get the message and start trying to boost their numbers ahead of 2014 since it was an election year. The shocking defeat of Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District by a far-right Tea Party challenger and now the release of this Gallup poll showing a record low in the public’s confidence in Congress, these are signs that potentially any incumbent in any district isn’t safe. Whether it is in a primary or in the general election, anyone, anywhere, could suddenly find themselves unemployed after January. From Gallup:
These results come from a June 5-8 Gallup poll that updated Americans’ confidence in 17 U.S. institutions that Americans either read about or interact with in government, business, and society.
Americans’ current confidence in Congress is not only the lowest on record, but also the lowest Gallup has recorded for any institution in the 41-year trend. This is also the first time Gallup has ever measured confidence in a major U.S. institution in the single digits. Currently, 4% of Americans say they have a great deal of confidence in Congress, and 3% have quite a lot of confidence. About one-third of Americans report having “some” confidence, while half have “very little,” and another 7% volunteer that they have “none.”
Confidence in Congress has varied over the years, with the highest levels in the low 40% range recorded in the 1970s and again in the mid-1980s. Confidence rose in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but has declined since 2004, culminating in this year’s historic low. (Source)
The reasoning for this lack of confidence can be attributed to a couple of factors in my opinion. First of all, other than launch one investigation after another into Benghazi, Bowe Bergdahl or the IRS in pathetic attempts to discredit or embarrass the president, the Republican-controlled House has done little else since January 2011. Unless perhaps you’re one of those who count causing a government shutdown and launching 52 attempts to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act as doing anything meaningful. Not only have they failed to pass any worthwhile legislation, but the Republicans are fighting amongst themselves as the Tea Party contingent has decided they want to run the show, and establishment Republicans are forced to juggle their hatred for the president while trying to keep the Louie Gohmerts and Steve Stockmans of the batshit crazy wing from taking over. So it’s no wonder that Gallup came up with the not-so-shockingly low poll numbers that they found.
The current 7% of Americans who place confidence in Congress is the lowest of the 17 institutions Gallup measured this year, and is the lowest Gallup has ever found for any of these institutions. The dearth of public confidence in their elected leaders on Capitol Hill is yet another sign of the challenges that could face incumbents in 2014’s midterm elections — as well as more broadly a challenge to the broad underpinnings of the nation’s representative democratic system. (Source)
Second, Democrats aren’t immune from this criticism either. I feel many of them have decided to wait out the Tea Party occupation of Capitol Hill and hope that the day America finally gets tired of people like Michele Bachmann comes sooner rather than later. The one notable exception is Alan Grayson who just three weeks ago managed to sneak an amendment protecting journalists into an appropriations bill, and led all members of the House in 2013 for bills introduced, according to a report card issued by Govtrack.us back in January. However, despite the apathetic or defeatist attitudes some Democratic members of Congress may have, I’ll still take that over the Republican’s political version of the Inquisition any day.
Yet, the question that is really puzzling me is where in the hell did Gallup polling find the people that expressed a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress? Perhaps as John McCain’s worn-out joke goes, maybe they really are down to “paid staffers and blood relatives.”
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