July 30th, 2007

toothybear

A Political Mini-Rant

OK.

The President of the United States is now the consistently least popular President ever, with his job approval ratings stuck in the low thirty percent range.

Remarkably, Congress is almost as unpopular. Even though Congress is our only hope to modulate Bush's disastrous, bloody-minded stupid-headedness, most Americans -- almost the same percentage that disapprove of Bush, disapprove of Congress.

But strange thing -- nearly every Senator and Representative is quite popular in their home districts. More popular than either the President or Congress!

What does this mean? One of two things: either people hate the process that Congress embodies, or they don't understand that process well enough to judge how well its working. I suspect that it's a lack of understanding, and it makes me even more pessimistic. What I take away from this is that people don't understand how their government works. Hell I wonder how many Americans could draw a star on a blank map where Washington DC is.

But the fact of the matter is that Congress' inertia and fractally fretted compromises actually prevent more harm to the nation than good. To the extent that Congress has been able to pass evil or idiotic legislation, it has been a victory for the special interest lobbies. And yet, those lobbyists can be rendered ineffective by enough noise from constituents. When people get pissed off and write their Senators and Representatives, they listen, because a voter who takes the time to send something as ephemeral as an e-mail probably votes, and pay attention to how THEY vote.

I don't mean to call people stupid for not knowing how Congress works -- I think that the great success of the American Experiment is that people can mostly ignore the Government. But we do that at our peril. To be cynical about Congress and figure they're all crooks is to abdicate your own place in the process. You can make a difference, but not if you just whine about how it works.