Americans aren’t too impressed with the performance of their government.
A fresh poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal reveals how voters grade elected officials: a C-minus, or a 2.1 GPA. Individual politicians and parties scored even lower.
Approval for Congress’s job performance reached an all-time low since NBC and the WSJ began polling in 1995. Barely 40 percent think President Obama is doing a good job, and the numbers only get worse from there. Only one in four Americans believe the country “is on the right track.”
One number might scare incumbents up for re-election next month:
Fifty-five percent of respondents say they would vote every member of Congress out of office if they could.
Most people prefer a new face to a political veteran. Recent Gallup polls concur that Americans are increasingly fed-up with Congress and ready for a shake-up.
The poll results are astonishing, but talk is cheap. As our grandmothers used to say, “Actions speak louder than words.” And voters repeatedly keep 80 percent of incumbents in office. Why?
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza thinks it’s time to put some muscle behind the complaints. “The government we have is the government we deserve — and not in a good way,” he wrote in a piece on the poll numbers. In other words, if you don’t like what you get, then vote differently.
Gallup’s Frank Newport thinks there’s something deeper going on: “the average American perceives that systems and procedures in Washington need to be changed in fundamental ways that transcend the particular group of people who are elected to serve in Congress at any given time.”
Americans may need better options for elected officials, but personnel isn’t the only problem. We need a system for those elected officials to work in that doesn’t reward corruption, power-hungry ambition, self-interest, and greed, but one that fosters decisionmaking at every level of government based on what is best for the citizens.
The founders of our nation set out the structure of government they thought best able to preserve personal liberties, but they knew it would eventually become bloated and broken.
So they left us a way to fix the system itself: a Convention of States, as discussed in Article V of the Constitution. The people, through their state governments, can amend the Constitution to restore the balanced federal government that our founders intended. And fortunately, we can do it without the approval of Congress.
Mark Meckler is the president of Citizens for Self Governance, which created the Convention of States Project.