While the favorability rating of local and state governments has only declined slightly in the past decade, Americans’ rating of the federal government has collapsed according to Pew Research polling.

Just a third of Americans have a favorable opinion of the federal government, the lowest positive rating in 15 years. Yet opinions about state and local governments remain favorable, on balance. As a result, the gap between favorable ratings of the federal government and state and local governments is wider than ever.

Ten years ago, roughly two-thirds of Americans offered favorable assessments of all three levels of government: federal, state and local. But in the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, conducted April 4-15, 2012 among 1,514 adults nationwide, the favorable rating for the federal government has fallen to just 33%; nearly twice as many (62%) have an unfavorable view.

There is now a huge and growing gap between how Americans view their local governments and the federal government. While part of this could be due to conservatives recently demonizing the federal government since President Obama took office, a drop of this magnitude is probably a sign of much deeper problems.

Our Congress has basically stopped being able to do anything, ever. The Senate has insisted on defending the most idiotic legislative rules in the first world and as a result the chamber has turned into a pathetic joke.

A functioning legislature should at least make half the country modestly happy much of the time. Instead, a totally dysfunctional legislature simply means almost no one is happy all of the time. As long as the members of the Senate prioritize defending their childish ideas of Senate privilege over adopting the system that allows them to efficiently do their duty, I suspect support for the federal government will continue to erode.