June 21, 2007

AMERICA'S POLITICAL CLASS faces a crisis of confidence. Mark Tapscott comments on the latest plummeting polls:

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 lowest confidence rating Gallup has ever recorded for Congress since the survey firm began measuring public confidence in 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. 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.

If we define America's political class as consisting of the three branches of the federal government, plus the mainstream news media, some tentative conclusions are suggested:

First, the dramatic reversal of partisan political power seen in the November 2006 election was either a fluke or an inevitably lost opportunity for the winning Democrats. Short of an historically unprecedented philosophical reversal of course by the majority, it is hard to see Congress regaining public respect any time soon.

Seen in this light, Rep. Rahm Emanuel's recent declaration that the American people "are very happy with the things we have done" seems especially out of touch.

In fact, having raised and then frustrated public hopes for a change in Washington, the Democrats lost opportunity could well end up accelerating the crisis of confidence seen as the previous GOP congressional majority frittered away the support that had kept it in power for a dozen years.

Second, Republicans should take no comfort in the Democrats' declining ratings.

I agree. There's much more and you should read it all. This is much more important than the political horse-race business. And I agree with this part, too: "The root problem is a bipartisan inability - or refusal - to adopt policies supported by clear majorities of the American people. Those policies for the most part involve a significantly lower level of government activism, whereas the political class for the most part seeks only a higher level."

UPDATE: More thoughts from Sean Hackbarth. And Tammy Bruce wants a constitutional amendment to fire Congress when its approval gets this low.

MORE: Thoughts on burning bridges.

STILL MORE: Apparently Congress doesn't think much of America, either. Well, that would explain a lot . . . .