Monday, December 02, 2013

New Low: Only 6% of Americans Approve of Congress

From AlterNet:

The American people like car salespeople better than Congress. A new Economist/ poll shows that six percent of people approve of Congress. 

A bit more here.

We hear stories like this all the time, that everybody hates Congress, that Washington is broken or dysfunctional, and, of course, all this is completely true.  On the other hand, it's true only if our assumptions about how our government is supposed to function are true, assumptions about how we have what political scientists call a "democratic republic," one which represents the collective will of citizens.  But I don't think those assumptions are true anymore, so I don't really think it's accurate to say our government is broken or dysfunctional.  

Actually, it's been a long time since things have functioned the way we're taught in high school government class.  Clearly, the US is still a republic, but the representatives do NOT represent the will of voters.  Sure, voters continue to play a role.  They're wooed delicately and forcefully every two or six years by extraordinarily expensive advertising campaigns aimed at promoting the preferred product brand, Republican or Democrat.  But that's about the only role that voters play.  They vote, and that's it.  Otherwise, our representatives represent the people who pay for those extraordinarily expensive ad campaigns, corporations, the fabulously wealthy, and their front groups.

Washington is only broken if you think Congress should do what voters want--if you're cool with rule-by-wealth, however, our capitol is functioning exactly as intended.  But whether it's broken or not is irrelevant in the end: this is how the capitol functions now.  The fact that what amounts to a statistical margin-of-error is all that approves of Congress' performance is just another piece of evidence that our noble experiment in democracy is OVER.  Congress no longer belongs to us.

No wonder we all hate it.