The public’s mad at Obama, Democrats, and Republicans–really, at just about everybody in Washington. They hate Republicans the most, but they’re not happy with anybody:
The AP-GfK poll finds few people approve of the way the president is handling most major issues and most people say he’s not decisive, strong, honest, reasonable or inspiring.
In the midst of the government shutdown and Washington gridlock, the president is faring much better than his party, with large majorities of those surveyed finding little positive to say about Democrats. The negatives are even higher for the Republicans across the board, with 4 out of 5 people describing the GOP as unlikeable and dishonest and not compassionate, refreshing, inspiring or innovative.
Negativity historically hurts the party in power — particularly when it occurs in the second term of a presidency — but this round seems to be hitting everyone. More people now say they see bigger differences between the two parties than before Obama was elected, yet few like what either side is offering.
Well, I’ve generally not liked politicians and I’ve not been keen on many presidents either, so for me this is nothing new. And of course many of those people mad at Republicans for being “unlikeable and dishonest,” as well as not “refreshing, inspiring or innovative” are in fact conservative and/or Republicans.
But if one of the reasons a lot of people are down on both Democrats and Republicans in Congress is that the parties are further apart than ever, I think many of those people might do well to look in the mirror. Because I think it only reflects the fact that Americans themselves are more politically polarized than ever. Sometimes I wonder which comes first, the chicken or the egg?
My best guess is that it’s an escalating feedback loop, where greater polarization of politicians helps feed greater polarization of the public, and vice versa. And of course let’s not discount the MSM’s contribution, as well as talk-radio, the 24-hour cable news networks and news cycle, the growth of opinion journalism masquerading as news journalism, and the decline of politeness and respect in public life (helped by President Obama himself, whose rhetoric has been increasingly inflammatory).
If we really have become a population that’s more and more divided into polarized factions, you might say “so be it.” But one of the strengths of the US used to be that the parties were composed of a greater proportion of moderates, and were much more able to pull together for the common good, especially in wartime or other crises. I fear we’ve lost that ability.