Congressional Approval Rating At Historic Lowsby Doug Mataconis
According to the latest Gallup Poll, Congress’s approval rating is at a low not seen since the days when guys like Tom Foley were in charge:
PRINCETON, NJ — A new Gallup Poll finds Congress’ approval rating the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove, according to the August 13-16, 2007, Gallup Poll.
That 18% job approval rating matches the low recorded in March 1992, when a check-bouncing scandal was one of several scandals besetting Congress, leading many states to pass term limits measures for U.S. representatives (which the Supreme Court later declared unconstitutional). Congress had a similarly low 19% approval rating during the energy crisis in the summer of 1979.
And what could the reason be for this historic low ? The Gallup people think there are a few:
Americans elected the Democrats as the majority party in Congress in November 2006’s midterm election in large part due to frustration with the Iraq war and an ineffective and scandal-plagued Republican-led Congress. But any hopes that the elections would lead to change have not been realized as Democrats’ repeated attempts to force a change in Iraq war policy have been largely unsuccessful due to presidential vetoes, disagreements within their own party, and the inability to attract Republican support for their policy proposals. Also, many of the Democratic leadership’s domestic agenda items have not become law even though some have passed one or both houses of Congress.
As the trend in congressional approval makes clear, ratings of Congress usually suffer during times of economic uncertainty, as during the late 1970s and early 1990s. While Americans’ ratings of current economic conditions are not near historical lows, there is a great deal of concern about the direction in which the economy is headed. The latest poll finds a record 72% of Americans saying the economy is “getting worse.”
It’s not at all surprising that the Democrats have disappointed the public. After all, the leadership that came into power in January isn’t all that different from the people that were in charge back when Newt Gingrich’s revolution rolled through the country and brought Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress. In fact, in some case, the same people who were in charge back then are in charge again now.
That’s the problem with the “throw the bums out” idea. More often than not, it really means “throw the bums out and bring back the bums we threw out the last time.” In the end, very little gets accomplished.
That’s why it’s time to start thinking about some radical ideas. Like term limits and returning Congress to the citizen legislature it was meant to be. And, although I know this is never likely to happen, repealing the 17th Amendment for the reasons I named in this post.
It’s time to start thinking some radical thoughts people.