For some time, opponents of President Bush have been crowing about his terrible approval ratings. Meanwhile, almost unnoticed, Congress’s approval ratings have sunk to levels that make the President’s approval rating look positively sunny. If the President’s ratings are an indictment of his leadership, the Congressional leadership probably deserves a quick trip to Gitmo! A quick summary of some recent ratings:
- The President: 39% approval (Rasmussen 7/2007)
- The Supreme Court: 40% approval (Rasmussen 7/2007)
- The Congress: 16% approval (Rasmussen 7/2007)
- Among Democrats: 26% approval
- Among Republicans: 13% approval
- Among unaffiliated voters: 9% approval
Given the traditional reverence for the Court, that 40% is probably nothing to be overjoyed about, but the people who have to really worried are the Democrats in charge of Congress. Considering that Congress’s approval rating has done nothing but decline since the Democrats won power from the Republicans, such abysmal ratings are a terrible indictment of Pelosi, Reid, and their cronies in the leadership. So far, Pelosi herself has managed to avoid the full measure of dislike, holding on to an approval rating rivaling the President’s. Still, considering that the President is holding steady or making slight gains, while Pelosi has watched her approval plummit from earlier in the year, she may not be drawing a lot of consolation.
But is this any surprise? Poll after poll made it clear that the economy, immigration, corruption, and pork trumped Iraq as key reasons for voters in the 2006 election. And what has the Congress done since then? Prattle on about Iraq, push through stupid and meaningless non-binding resolutions, studiously ignore health insurance, Social Security, and Medicare, and attempt to pass an immigration bill viewed by a huge majority as ignoring border security and offering blanket amnesty. What haven’t they done? Make any progress whatsoever on ending corruption or “earmarks” (as they like to term pork these days).
At the same time, voters who elected Democrats believing their promises to move away from the divisive and partisan politics of the 2000 and 2004 elections can’t help but be disappointed. The only areas in which the Democrats have made bipartisan efforts have been immigration (where the effort was viewed negatively by a huge majority) and earmarks (once again, doing precisely what the public doesn’t want). Meanwhile, on issue after issue, Pelosi, Reid, and the rest have issued scathing denunciations of the Administration and the Republicans in Congress. Rather than build bridges, they’ve been burning them in record numbers.
So voters who voted for change in 2006 have every right to be upset. They voted for a move away from the culture of corruption, pork, and partisanship and they got more of the same in every case. In many cases, those Democrats elected as reform candidates in 2006 are honestly trying to keep their promises, but their leadership is proving to be no more eager for reform than the Republicans they replaced. The country is starting to realize that the problem wasn’t the Republican leadership, it was the Congressional leadership.
Which means it’s unlikely that Congress will improve in either reality or ratings any time soon. Fortunately, Democrats (and others) interested in real reform do have a clear path forward: vote the entire Democratic leadership out of office as soon as possible! Hey, if we keep doing that every election cycle, maybe someday somebody will get the message: you work for us, so start doing your damn job!