The number of Americans who think Congress is doing a “good” or “excellent” job has now dropped to 8 percent. While polling numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, this draws attention to a national trend. Americans increasingly feel as though their representatives do not represent them.
As Congress returns to session, here are 8 possible explanations for why Congress is so unpopular among Americans:
1. They aren't doing their job.
2. They plan to work even less in 2014.
“While members of Congress claim that these long recesses are “district work periods,” often times these periods are spent campaigning or doing little real work for Americans, leaving the long nights and weekends to staff members, who, to their credit, work very hard,” Wendy Innes reports.
3. Despite working less, they make 4 times more than the average American.
“The average median household income for a worker with full-time employment was $776 per week during the second quarter of 2013.,” Innes continues.
4. Which makes over half of lawmakers millionaires.
The full report can be seen here.
5. Congress doesn't listen.
And maybe they’re right. In a system where less than 10% of voters participate in party primaries and over 90% of elections are decided in the primary, candidates don’t have to listen to their constituents to win.
6. 42% of Americans now identify as independent.
7. Women make up 50.8% of the population, and only 17% of the Congress.
“Differing leadership styles and views of power versus their male counterparts have also led to greater participation, with an emphasis on cooperation and teamwork.” Read more.
8. Because when they do actually do their job, they congratulate themselves.
For example, after the 16 day government shutdown, Congress applauded their willingness to compromise.
“Today, the eyes of the world will see Congress reach a bipartisan, historic agreement to reopen the government,” Senator Harry Reid tweeted. Compromise is not “historic”; it’s part of their job.
But before we get ahead of ourselves pointing fingers solely at Congress, let’s remember that in a true Republic, Congress is only as good as the people it represents. How can we expect Congress to engage in a productive manner if we don’t first change our own political discourse?
Photo Credit: LeftJabRadio.com