Thursday, June 21, 2007

Congress Crisis of Confidence

Harry Reid, famous Senator from Las Vegas, said that he didn't pay attention to anyone whose poll numbers were lower han Congress, referring to the Vice President. Now that the latest Gallup poll shows that he and 534 of his closest friends share a confidence rating lower, he is silent...

Generally speaking, Americans have been skeptical about Congress for decades now. But the current 14% confidence rating for Congress is down from 19% last year and is the lowest in Gallup’s history, surpassing the 18% confidence in Congress measured in 1991, 1993 and 1994.

Americans' are generally in a sour mood, as discussed here. The particularly low rating for Congress this year thus represents a continuation of the existing low esteem in which Congress is held, coupled with a strongly negative mindset on the part of the American public.

Mark Tapscott offers the additional views that

Nothing is so critical to the continuing health of a republic than the confidence of people that their elected representatives have their best interests at heart in their decision-making. Once that confidence is lost, a revolution of one sort or another becomes likely. In America, such a crisis could be right around the corner.

Consider the latest Gallup Poll, which finds only 14 percent of the American people have "a great deal of" confidence in Congress or "quite a lot," compared to 19 percent a year ago. That is the lowest confidence rating Gallup has ever recorded for Congress since the survey firm began measuring public opinion on major American institutions in 1973.

Congress is far from alone in suffering plummeting confidence ratings. The presidency dropped from 33 percent to 25 percent and the Supreme Court from 40 percent to 34 percent during the same period. The trend line for all three branches has been downward since 9/11.

The "fourth branch" of government, the mainstream media, also has declining public confidence ratings. Television news dropped from 31 percent to 23 percent, while newspapers were down to 22 percent, compared to 30 percent a year ago.

The highest confidence levels were for the military at 69 percent, small business at 59 percent, and the police at 54 percent. Organized labor remained among the lowest at 19 percent, along with HMOs at 15 percent and Big Business at 18 percent.
Until the advent of the Internet and tools like blogs for making it a convenient tool for mass communication, however, that public frustration had no positive outlet, other than Talk Radio. Now that blogs and other online news and commentary tools such as the Porkbusters and Sunlight Foundation approaches to public policy advocacy are developing at a rapid pace, the decline of the mainstream media as the crucial bridge between the public and policy-makers is evaporating.

When people have an affordable, effective alternative to a failed product or service, they will go to it. As things currently stand, however, there is no viable alternative to the two major parties that make up the heart of the American political class.

None of this is new or even particularly controversial. The Press have turned every issue into a sports contest style of winners-losers reporting... They offer opinion, analysis, and reports of opinions and analysis... and then get caught with "fake-but-emotionally-true" news, reors filed from the sparebedroom instead of the scene, reporters taking instruction and photo-ops from the enemies of the nation, and just plain lying... After disparaging everyone, the messenger is found to have unclean hands...

In Who do we trust?

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