Daniel Doherty

I’m tired of writing these kinds of posts, but they are instructive:

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PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans' approval of the way Congress is handling its job has dropped to 9%, the lowest in Gallup's 39-year history of asking the question. The previous low point was 10%, registered twice in 2012.

By a hair, Congressional Democrats’ job approval rating is actually higher than Congressional Republicans’. Amazing work, guys.

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Divided government is as old as the republic, but there’s something about this Congress, in particular, that Americans loathe. What is it? On the Left, progressives would say that Tea Party “extremists” have essentially hijacked the government, creating a climate of hate and intimidation making it virtually impossible for the president and his supporters to govern effectively. This kind of partisanship is unprecedented, they tell us. On the Right, however, conservatives would say that deeply unpopular legislation passed by the federal Congress (albeit on a straight party vote) is ruining people’s lives, and there’s not much they, as citizens, can do about it. People want to be left alone, and yet the government is imposing all sorts of mandates, taxes and regulations on individuals and families which, in turn, are eroding their God-given freedoms. Both sides are unhappy with the status quo, as they should be.

That being said, I’m not convinced this is the most polarized and divided the nation has ever been, Congress’s historically low approval ratings notwithstanding. Don't forget, the days of the early republic (starting, say, with the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and ending with the presidential election of 1800)— and the Civil War — were times of immense rancor and disagreement. Are we really to believe, then, that the year 2013 is the most partisan in our nation’s history? Please. One problem today is that there is a “crisis of confidence” in Washington and Americans don’t trust their government. Restore trust in government institutions, and perhaps Congress’s low approval rating will take care of itself.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography