Exposing an American Myth
Who pays the price?
12:00 AM, Apr 15, 2010 • By GARY ANDRES
Congress as an institution also suffered reputational backlash as voters realized Obama’s Kumbaya didn’t translate to the legislative process. Analyzing congressional approval/disapproval in polling is one way to measure Congress’s change in status among citizens over the last year. For example, Congress’s net disapproval more than doubled from -25 points (58 percent disapprove/33 percent approve) to -57 points according to the Real Clear Politics average of all public surveys measuring congressional support from April 2009 to April 2010. Congressional consideration of issues like the stimulus bill, cap and trade, and health care all exposed deep divisions among rank-and-file voters. The partisan conflicts generated by these issues drove down congressional approval ratings over the past year.
Lawmakers, like Bart Stupak, and Congress as an institution bears the consequences of President Obama downplaying real differences and raising false hopes that he could bridge this diversity.
The myth of consensus on public policy explains why many Americans hate politics. They just don’t understand why Congress and the president can’t find common accord. The answer: that consensus doesn’t exist. Barack Obama did little to help the country understand its differences. Instead, he perpetuated the myth. His approval numbers, as well as those of Congress, are now suffering as a result.
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