How low can congressional approval ratings go? Single digit low. But not low enough, apparently, for voters to remove bad actors from Congress or generate substantial grassroots support for term limits.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely voters found that only nine percent (9%) give Congress good or excellent ratings, while 54% give the legislature poor marks. Just one-out-of-50 voters (2%) think Congress is doing an excellent job.
The last time the ratings were this low was on September 9. In late November, 12% gave Congress good or excellent ratings. This is now the fifth time congressional ratings have fallen below 10% since June 1.
I'm trying to remember what Congress may have done between September 9th and now that caused approval to skyrocket over 10%. Passing the bailout package? Excoriating a few CEOs for buying what Fannie and Freddie were selling? Fading into the background of a Presidential Election?
One-in-three voters (34%) believes most members of Congress are corrupt, while 39% disagree. In last month's survey, 36% saw most members as corrupt.
A separate Rasmussen survey released last week found that voters view politicians as being more corrupt than CEO's of major corporations by a 48% to 25% margin.
Voters are more or less evenly split on whether Congress is corrupt. Congress' remedy for this crisis of confidence will involve consolidating even more power in Washington. The government doesn't manage its own affairs well, but now we can rely on them to repair the credit market, auto industry, health care, and wisely mete out economic stimulus. Double digit approval here we come!
How CEO's of major corporations get mentioned in the same breath a Congress is a mystery to me. CEO's are held accountable by shareholders. CEO's go to jail when they break the law. Unlike Congress, competency counts in the private sector. They may escape with a golden parachute, but CEO's from failed companies can't spend a lifetime plundering their assigned treasuries like elected officials.
The latest survey found that just 14% of voters believe members of Congress are more interested in helping people than their own careers, down from 23% in November. Most voters (71%) say the opposite.
Yet the voters dutifully return the same people to Congress for decades on end. There's no disputing that going to Washington is all about amassing power and influence. What one does with that power and influence distinguishes the true public servants from the pork barrel politicians. Republicans and Democrats are equally guilty of abusing power - just as Republican and Democratic voters share the blame for enabling their malfeasance.
The natural tendency of those in power is to seek more power. The Founding Fathers knew this all too well and did their best to guard against concentrating the federal government's powers. But federalism has been effectively buried and replaced with an all-knowing, all-powerful central politburo compelled to manage the smallest details of our lives.
Either that's what the majority of Americans want or we're all too stupid to look past the (R) or (D) next to a candidate's name and send the most competent person with a believe in limited government to represent us in Washington. We get the government we deserve. Maybe we just don't deserve better.