A record number of Americans are unhappy with Congress right now according to the newest New York Times/CBS News poll.
A record 82 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job — the most since The Times first began asking the question in 1977, and even more than after another political stalemate led to a shutdown of the federal government in 1995.
More than four out of five people surveyed said that the recent debt-ceiling debate was more about gaining political advantage than about doing what is best for the country. Nearly three-quarters said that the debate had harmed the image of the United States in the world.
The fact that American people are very upset with Congress right now shouldn’t be surprising. Congress has becoming significantly more gridlocked and it just ended a very public high stakes fight. The country has also been stuck in a bad economy for years, and despite that fact that the vast majority of voters want Congress focused on jobs, all Washington has focused on for months is the deficit
If we had a unicameral parliamentary system, what with the bad economy combined with the historic disapproval, Republicans would obviously lose control of the House in a huge wave in the 2012 election. But we don’t have a parliamentary system. The Congress that the American people are so upset with is split between a House controlled by Republicans and a Senate controlled by Democrats. And 2012 is a Presidential year election and voters tend to blame the President and his party for the bad conditions.
What this all means is that politically we are in uncharted territory. The America people are historically unhappy with their governing institutions but with only two major parties and a divided government, it is hard to know how this voter anger will be expressed.