How low can you go?
Well, in the case of Congress, it appears, even lower than you imagined. Gallup has released results of their latest approval numbers for Congress, and it’s not pretty:
Americans’ current confidence in Congress [7%] 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.
In contrast, confidence in the President and the Supreme Court stands at 30 percent. That’s not great, but it’s over four times higher than Congress.
What is happening to Congress that it should be judged now as unworthy of respect by the most Americans ever?
Many candidates for the House and Senate are shrunken caricatures of politicians. Their experience is low or non-existent, their life stories lack interest, and their political views consist of a select few shopworn ideas. This is especially true of the so-called Tea Party upstarts, who appear to be manufactured by a right wing Willy Wonka. Lumps of confectionery for voters in the age of junk food.
Where do these candidates come from and how do they ascend so quickly into the limelight during the primary season? From humble businessman or university professor to slick politician in 30 days, or your money back. Of course, it’s not their money. The Wonka factory board room provides the funding, and the lumps come off the line in sparkly wrappers, with their ingredients plainly labelled: Christian, family man, hate taxes, love guns, anti-choice, gonna repeal the ACA. Any questions? Oh yes, Charter Skools.
The last 10 years have seen a string of defeats for an ideology that rose up in the 70’s and triumphed in 1980. We don’t have living ideas any more, we have zombie ideas: tax cuts for the rich; pre-emptive war; the war on drugs; deregulation, three strikes. Throw in the substitute: Evangelical Christian dominionism with a dash of libertarian anti-government paranoia. What you end up with is an unappetizing mess.
Somewhere along the way, the “throw the bum out” philosophy of voting replaced the “candidiate who’s policies make sense” philosophy of voting. How convenient! Everybody, from the candidate, to the reporting media, to the voters, can take a holiday from cognitive function. Now it’s easy: Me see on Youtube; me like sweet candy flavor; me no like incumbent; me throw bum out. But who can blame them? After 35 years of failed policy prescriptions, why pay the slightest bit of attention to policy?
Yes, Congress is now sitting at 7% approval. Mathematically, it can certainly go lower. If it gets to zero, Gallup will have to change their poll. What is the purpose of measuring nothing?
But will that happen? Might something else happen before Congress totally bankrupts? In the voting booth or on the streets?
P.S. It may appear my thesis is slanted against the conservative side of politics. Yes, it is. Maybe it’s the bubble I’m living in, or maybe it’s reality.