Americans Turn Against Congress

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Americans think that all members of Congress are carpetbaggers. At least that is what a new Gallup poll indicates. Citizens think better of the military than any other group in society. If there is a coup, the public might support it.

Gallup reports “Americans continue to express greater confidence in the military than in 15 other national institutions, with 78% saying they have a `great deal’ or `quite a lot’ of confidence in it.”

By extension, the research raises the issue of  whether the highly partisan nature of the debates on the debt cap and the deficit has soured the public on elected officials even further. Those two issues confuse themselves, but each indicates that the conclusions of the current grueling negotiations will almost certainly yield a deal that the public likely will oppose.   In Europe, these arrangements have led to riots.  Could that happen in the U.S.?  Maybe. It’s obvious , though, that the public’s frustration with the slow pace of the recovery is growing.

It is easy to say the loathing of Congress originates in the long list of scandals that dog politicians in the eyes of voters, even if elected officials have brought those upon themselves, but there is sense that scandals are not the only explanation.

Congress must still contend with the image created by House and Senate leaders bickering in public, often in front of television cameras which can be seen by million of Americans. A body that cannot reach consensus on a matter as critical as the nation’s future, particularly when it has been debated over many months, combined with indecision about the debt cap as the critical deadline of August 2 looms, is nearly not worth having at all.

The budget debate may yield a perfect result. The deficit may be reduced, no essential programs may be cut, and the global capital markets may have their confidence in American sovereign paper renewed. The process that Congress has to take to get to those, or more flawed results, has taken whatever positive beliefs Americans have in Congress completely away.

Methodology: Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 9-12, 2011, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Douglas A. McIntyre