Fed up with Congress?

Better look in the mirror — we're the ones who sent polarized politicians to Washington
Associated Press
Oct 20, 2013

Hey, fed-up Americans, here's a scary thought after the dispiriting spectacle of the government shutdown: You're the ones who sent these members of Congress to Washington, and they really are a reflection of you.

For all the complaints about Washington, it was American groupthink that produced divided government in the past two elections and a Congress that has been tied in knots lately.

John Adams, who would become the country's second president, wrote in 1776 that legislators "should be in miniature an exact portrait of the people at large."

More than 200 years later, members of the current entangled House "are probably a very accurate reflection of how their constituents feel," says Ross Baker, a Rutgers University political scientist.

Not that people are ready to take ownership of the failings of their representatives.

"Of course not," says Baker. "It's a completely dissociative view of American politics — that somehow there are these grasping, corrupt, tone-deaf politicians in Washington who are totally unconnected to the caring and attentive, compassionate person" that an individual voter has elected to Congress.

With the government now powering back up to full speed and the next budget crisis pushed off at least until January, there is no shortage of speculation about whether voters will retaliate in the 2014 elections against lawmakers for this fall's budget impasse. A lot depends on how the next year goes.

President Barack Obama is expressing hope that the same spirit that ultimately produced a deal to end the shutdown and avert default will allow the country to make progress on other issues such as improving the immigration system.

"If we disagree on something, we can move on and focus on the things we agree on, and get some stuff done," Obama said Thursday.

But the president acknowledged difficulties ahead, what with the challenges of divided government and pressures from the political extremes.

"And," Obama added, "let's face it. The American people don't see every issue the same way."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has pledged to continue GOP efforts to "stop the train wreck" that he calls the president's health law.

For now at least, public sentiment toward Obama, congressional leaders and Congress in general is grim.

Nearly three-quarters of voters want to see most members of Congress defeated, a much higher level than at the same point prior to the 2006 and 2010 elections in which control of the House changed hands, according to the Pew Research Center. Also, Pew reports, the share of voters who want to see their own representative replaced is as high as it's been in two decades, at 38 percent.

Republican pollster David Winston says it's particularly notable that voters of all stripes are increasingly saying that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

In a recent Associated Press-GfK poll, 22 percent of those surveyed said the country was heading in the right direction and 78 percent said the wrong direction. That's a pretty stark change from shortly after Obama's re-election last fall, when 42 percent said right direction and 50 percent said wrong direction.

"One of the things that tells you is that the public is paying very close attention," says Winston. "The challenge for everybody — this is true for both parties — is to understand that every word they're saying is being listened to closely."

Yet for all of the public's grousing about polarized politicians, the voters themselves are deeply divided, too. They sort themselves geographically and ideologically. Congressional district boundaries are drawn to accentuate those political divisions.

When legislators answer to such solidly Republican or Democratic constituencies, they are more prone to engage in divisive antics such as those seen in recent weeks.

"We really are a red and blue nation," says Brookings Institution scholar Thomas Mann. "We separate ourselves. We tend to associate with people who think like we do."

The result, he says, is "more and more separation of Democrats and Republicans with distinctive sets of values and world views and then an attachment — almost a tribalistic attachment — to party that leads them to accept whatever the party position seems to be."

Winston thinks voters still have an expectation, though, that their legislators can find a way to both represent their constituents' views and effectively govern.

"It's not so much polarization, it's just that there are real differences of opinion," he says. "How do you work through that and create policy that both sides feel is moving things forward?"

Democratic pollster Peter Hart, too, thinks people still expect their legislators to find constructive solutions to the country's problems. He expects them to make that clear in the 2014 elections.

Says Hart: "My guess is that overall, there will be more change, more volatility, because this manufactured crisis made voters lose faith in the system and recognize that it just did not have to happen."

 

Comments

AJ Oliver

Ahem, quite a bit of thread drift here . .
The original article was an Associated Press bit about Congress.
Please treat AP stories with suspicion, not just this bogus article, but how they regularly bend the news to favor the right wing.
Want proof? They just put out an utterly phony story on the Virginia governor's race. But for a change, this time they got caught! Huzzah!
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/liv...

mikesee

A statement I think we all can pretty much agree on. Out of 250+ million people how are these the best options that we have?

coasterfan

Being President is kinda like being a teacher. You'll have way way more training, intelligence and expertise in your field than the vast majority of the people who complain about you. It's a thankless, underpaid job that most of the few who ARE qualified would not want.

Would you want a job in which millions of less intelligent people complained about you, no matter what you do, and in which radio hosts from the opposing party spend 8 years riling up their listeners with hate-filled rants, in a vain attempt to delegitimize your presidency?

shucks

You're right.

The ignorant rails against the expert.

Contango

Re: "Being President,"

Nah. It generally comes down to which of the candidates can fool the most people with their lies, falsehoods and obfuscations.

Not unlike "so-called" teachers who are mostly "experts" in the art of bull sh*ting which is WHY they're in the public and not in the private sector.

I had one prof I truly respected, who would go on sabbaticals and test out her industrial psych theories in corps.

shucks

Exhibit A just showed up.

Contango

Pres. Obama is the incarnate of H.L. Mencken's cynical prediction.

"As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.

On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron."

- H. L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

-------------

Enjoyed his ACA infomercial in the Rose Garden the other day.

There's a future for him after the presidency hawking steak knives in the AM hours on cable TV.

Dr. Information

To sum up most democrats, I can give you two scenario's with different results. Take your local school system. We all know most are hurting, and most people believe schools need to make due with what they have….aka staying within budget, making necessary cuts and NO NEW TAXES. When asked for more money….aka new taxes…..these same democrats say NO and say NO very loudly. I do not want to give more money to a school if they aren't addressing the issues of why they are going over budget, say most democrats.

Our government is no different than a school system. They operate this country on a larger scale, pay, spend and tax, yet you get a different reaction from democrats. They think the country is running fine, that borrowing and printing money that this country doesn't have is ok. They think its fine to keep raising taxes to pay for bills and ignore the real issues that is plaguing this country. We have a national spending problem and our government is bloated.

Again, 2 similar situations yet 2 different mindsets for democrats. Crazy.

mikesee

^^like^^

KURTje

Yeah & you miss Jerry Stackhouse.

Centauri

SILENCE!!

QUIET!!

4shizzle has a prepared speech of a little over 2 minutes.

Give 4shizzle your undivided attention for his factual wisdom.

4shizzle has prerecorded his speech. Go ahead 4shizzle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...
4shizzle's speaks his factual wisdom.

shucks

Thanks Centauri , I loved it !

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_hA7FHu...

shucks

http://thedamienzone.com/2010/12...

Yeah , you have problems.

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