Sadly, this is what “progress” looks like, my friends. Breathe. It. In.
Voters aren’t exactly singing Congress’s praises, but they’re giving it ever-so-slightly more positive ratings this month.
A new Rasmussen Reports national survey finds that 10% of Likely U.S. Voters now rate Congress’s performance as good or excellent. That’s up from seven percent (7%) at the beginning of July and the first time Congress' positives have reached double digits this year. Still, two-thirds (66%) of voters give Congress poor marks. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Despite such low overall approval numbers, members of Congress almost always get reelected, but just 10% of voters think that is because they actually do a good job representing their constituents, up from seven percent (7%) in April. Most voters (67%) continue to believe members of Congress are reelected because the election rules are rigged to benefit them. Twenty-three percent (23%) are not sure.
The poll also found that while ambitious office-seekers probably aren’t willing to sell their souls in exchange for fame and fortune, most Americans readily agree members of Congress are dishonest and untrustworthy:
Voters also remain skeptical about the honesty of those who represent them in Washington, DC. Sixty-three percent (63%) believe that most members of Congress are willing to sell their vote for cash or campaign contributions. Seventeen percent (17%) disagree, but 19% are undecided.
Fifty-five percent (55%) think it’s at least somewhat likely that their own representative in Congress has sold his or her vote for cash or a campaign contribution. Thirty-two percent (32%) feel that’s unlikely. This includes 28% who say it's Very Likely versus only eight percent (8%) who think it's Not At All Likely. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure.
Most aspiring pols run for political office because they want to serve the American public, right? It’s not until after they get elected, it seems, when they start compromising their principles and doing all sorts of shady and unseemly things. I’m also certain that men like Anthony Weiner, Bob Filner and Eliot Spitzer give politicians everywhere a bad name, although I would further point out that these infamous and sordid affairs are by no means exclusive to the Democratic Party.
“Public business,” John Adams once wrote to his son, “must always be done by somebody. [I]f wise men decline it, others will not.” In other words, the country needs men and women of character to run for office. And yet the very same people we want in public life too often prefer to live peacefully as private citizens, while at the same time the very people we don’t want in public life too often won’t go away. But alas, I suppose that's the way it's always been and always will be.