Blog Spotlight Rule 22
Most Americans disapprove of Congress and have for a long time. However, today Congress matched its historic best in disappointing US citizens. Gallup released a poll today showing that only 13% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing (Matching its worst approval ever is a statistic according to Gallup. In 2008, Congress managed 9% approval in a different poll). While 13% is low, it isn’t uncharted territory. Each successive poll, with the exception of a few outliers, echoes America’s frustration with its most democratic institution. Congress has only achieved an approval rating over 50% roughly eight times in the past 50 years.
So why does Congress suffer this fate? One popular explanation is corruption. It’s a salient point and it hardly comes from one source. The media, politicians, and academics alike all point fingers at the few scoundrels tarnishing its image. They have a point, too. For a stretch from the 70s through the 90s scandals running the gamut from strippers to improper use of PAC money were cited for eroding public confidence. There is no question corruption plays a role. Congress’s sluggish failure to enact ethics reform in the late 80s and 90s, outlawing and criminalizing these abuses, didn’t help its cause either. In 1994 David Broder referred to dropping approval numbers on account of scandals as the public’s “Lens of Deep Suspicion.”