Traverse City Record-Eagle

Other Views

December 3, 2013

Another View: We share blame with Washington

‘We the people’ must share the blame for the nation’s political mess

... Americans have castigated, upbraided, mocked and lampooned their representatives in Washington over their behavior in the government shutdown/debt ceiling crisis. Never in the history of the English language has the word “dysfunction” been used so frequently. Poll after poll shows the approval rating of Congress hovering in the low teens or single digits, with one snarky survey claiming Americans prefer hemorrhoids, zombies and toenail fungus to the legislative branch.

... But before we continue with our gripes, we should take a step back and consider our own role, as voters and citizens, in the political mess we find ourselves in.

In a sign of the public frustration at the political class, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 60 percent of respondents essentially stated that we should “throw the bums out” ... The reality, of course, is that we the people voted the bums in, and have done so over and over again. In 2012, in fact, we re-elected 90 percent of our incumbent senators and representatives, and we should bear some responsibility for that.

There is a longstanding disconnect between what Americans say about Congress as a whole and how they actually act when it comes to their own representatives. In May, a Gallup survey found that 16 percent of respondents approved of the performance of Congress, but 46 percent said their own representative was doing a good job. Interestingly, only 35 percent of those polled could actually name their representative, and among those 35 percent (presumably the people who vote regularly) 62 percent approved of the work of their own congressman.

We love to complain about Washington, but we almost never do anything about it. As far as our representatives are concerned, they are doing what they think we want them to do and what will win them re-election - and we’re not telling or showing them anything to the contrary.

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