Thomas McNeill for Congress

Utah's 3rd Congressional District

What has caused Congress’s approval rating to decline?

by Thomas G. McNeill, 4 October 2020

This post is part of a larger series. Full series in one document: Why vote for Thomas McNeill and the United Utah Party?

Previous: The abysmal approval rating of Congress.

[Summary of previous post: The approval rating of Congress has not exceeded 31% for over 10 years. It is typically around 20%. In has been as low as 9%. But individual members of Congress are more popular than Congress as a whole.]

It was not always this way. At one point in my lifetime, the two major parties were able to work together. They always had vigorous disagreements over policy, but in their personal relationships, members of Congress got along with each other for the most part. When action was needed, there would be spirited debate and political maneuvering, but in the end a compromise would be worked out. Whoever was in the majority would have a greater influence on the outcome, of course, but the minority party contributed to the final result.

Over time, members of Congress have become much more partisan and confrontational. Things have gotten to the point that members of both major parties seem much more interested in promoting their own party and denying the other party a victory than they are in the welfare of the country as a whole.

The fault is not all with Congress. Congress simply reflects growing polarization in the country as a whole. 1994 was the year that the public first became aware of the Internet in a big way. With 500 channels of television and social media on the Internet, people can now choose to consume news, information, and opinions exclusively from sources that match their views. This has a polarizing effect on society and is the most likely cause of more extreme candidates winning the nominations for their respective parties at a greater and greater rate.

Next: Why do individual members of Congress have high approval ratings, but Congress as a whole does not?