William F. Buckley Jr. Would Be Proud

William F. Buckley Jr. was once quoted as saying that he’d rather be ruled by the first 400 names in the Boston telephone directory than the faculty at Harvard. Apparently, most Americans feel the same way:

The public’s perception of Congress has sunk to yet another new low, with 43 percent of likely voters believing that a random name pulled from the White Pages would be better than the gang they’ve installed in Congress. According to Rasumssen polls, that is essentially equal to the worst public reading they have on record: 45 percent.

What’s more, the pollster found that lawmakers are ignorant of constituents, with 82 percent of likely voters believing that their House and Senate members listen to party leaders in Congress. Only 10 percent said that lawmakers listen to voters they represent.

The new poll is in line with others that show near historically low public approval ratings for Congress. In fact, if the ratings go down much further in some polls, it will be within the margin of error.

The phone book rating results were pretty much even across the board, with Republicans and Democrats in near agreement. In the poll, just 38 percent disagreed that a Congress made up of random picks would do better than the current group.

Sometimes, the American people get it just about right.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Only 10 percent said that lawmakers listen to voters they represent.

    Not only has it not been my experience that lawmakers have no interest in what their constituents think, I think they’re hungry for it more frequently than not. I have written to my Congressional representative occasionally over the period of the last 40 years. With only a single exception the responses I received were considered, respectful, and personalized.

    The exception: Rahm Emanuel. I received a form letter in response to my letter to him.

  2. Drew says:

    There is hope.

  3. The thing these polls always leave out is how people feel about their representative or senators in particular. Because, of course, we don’t vote for Congress as a whole. Every poll I’ve seen that actually looks at this shows that even though congress as a whole is very unpopular, a sizeable majority like their particular congressmen.

    So the problem isn’t with congress specifically, so much as it is with democracy; most people resent the fact that other groups in society are represented in the government and that this blocks them from imposing their particular policy preferences upon everyone else.

  4. Tano says:

    I wonder how long such idiotic opinions would last if we were to actually do the experiment – select a few hundred people at random and give them power as Congressmen.

    I would guess there would be near unanimous disapproval of the job they are doing within three days….

    Actually, I doubt any of this is serious – the question itself is nothing more than an invitation to rant…

  5. john personna says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I’d be interested in hearing if humans actually read a significant fraction of letters. We had two things happen at once. There was the anthrax episode, and scanning got good enough. As I understand it, all letters now go to “an undisclosed location,” where they are scanned and shredded. From there, I believe they are input for statistical analysis and keywords.

    The last times I wrote, I got “semi-personalized” responses. In one case they got the issue right, but my position wrong. In the other, they got the issue wrong.

  6. Ben says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Completely different from my experience Dave. I wrote to my US Rep and both of my Senators during the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, and received dismissive, patronizing form letters that addressed none of my arguments.

  7. Tillman says:

    What’s more, the pollster found that lawmakers are ignorant of constituents, with 82 percent of likely voters believing that their House and Senate members listen to party leaders in Congress. Only 10 percent said that lawmakers listen to voters they represent.

    Boy, I wonder who they have to listen to more often on a daily basis. C’mon, American people, do you call your Congressman every day and list your complaints? If the average constituency is unactive, this is not surprising at all and shouldn’t be given much weight in consideration.

    Also, Buckley can go to hell. No way I’m letting that asshole in the phone book make legislation for me. I might despise my Congressman, but I hate that asshole.

  8. JohnMcC says:

    @Tano: Well, my friend, it is not quite the same thing but people generally like the jury system better than the congressional one.

  9. JohnMcC says:

    Just think how bursting-with-pride Mr Buckley would feel knowing that the John Birch Society was involved in last year’s CPAC and — to correct their mistake — this year they have the VDARE white nationalist hate group.

  10. Hey Norm says:

    I hope Bill F. is proud of this…’cause he sure the hell can’t be proud of the Conservative Movement right now.

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    I’d be interested in hearing if humans actually read a significant fraction of letters.

    I’m pretty confident that my correspondence with Frank Annunzio and Jan Schakowsky were both read and responded to by human beings. My correspondence with Schakowsky was highly detailed and personalized. I also know how to write a letter that draws something other than a canned response.

    I’m not sure about the correspondence with Sid Yates although he was pretty low tech. My response from Emanuel was definitely a non-responsive form letter.

  12. Hey Norm says:

    Lieberman doesn’t read anything unless it’s about Israel.

  13. Franklin says:

    Not only has it not been my experience that lawmakers have no interest in what their constituents think, I think they’re hungry for it more frequently than not.

    Too many negative words in this sentence for my currently tired brain. In any case, I’ve probably written 4 or 5 e-mails (which I know are not nearly as good as actual letters). At least 3 that I can remember came back with the ‘semi-personal’ response which correctly responded to my issue and position.

  14. John Burgess says:

    @Franklin: That’s been my experience with my Representative. Not so much from either Senator, though.