It seems Republicans and Democrats alike can agree on something, if you believe the results of a new CNN/ORC International Poll which says two-thirds of Americans think the current Congress is the worst in their lifetime.
The prevailing notion the 113th Congress has done a lousy job “exists among all demographic and political subgroups. Men, women, rich, poor, young, old - all think this year's Congress has been the worst they can remember," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland told the network Thursday.
What’s particularly worrisome is that older Americans, who have benefit of perspective, hold more negative views of this particular Congress than younger Americans. And it’s no particular party’s fault, according to the poll. Or, it’s the fault of both major political parties. Fifty-two percent of Americans believe Congressional Democrats are leading us down the wrong road while 54 percent say the same thing about Republicans.
In other words, while Americans are united on the inability of Congress to do its job, we’re fairly divided on why it's not working — with about half of us blaming one side and the other half blaming the other side.
That’s not particularly surprising. This is a weird time we're living in.
On the one hand, we’re arguably a more diverse and better informed society now than ever, at least in terms of the amount of information available to us — though one could question whether much of the media barrage we process each day has much real value.
On the other, as a people we seem increasingly less likely to compromise and more certain our particular beliefs are right than in the past, which naturally makes accepting the validity of alternate points of view even less likely and tends to make compromise harder, if not impossible, to achieve.
Politics, of course, doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's a reflection of who we are, not the cause.
Hence, we have the mess in Washington, a Congress that is just as polarized as the country it is supposed to lead.
We could write all day about that, but the sad truth is that it only adds to the mountains of opinion already out there saying much the same. Everybody seems to know the system needs a good flushing — the problem is how to make sure it functions as it’s supposed to once the bad stuff is cleared out.
In the meantime, know this: the telephone survey of 1,035 adults took place last week. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, according to CNN, but even if the poll were off by 10 points it still shows a good number of Americans are more than fed up with Washington. "The worst congress in this lifetime?" To many, it is.
What’s not so clear is what to do about it., but we need to find a solution. Perhaps working toward that goal should be our national New Year's resolution.