|Congress less popular than cockroaches?|
Let’s face it: The American political system is broken.
The midterm elections were a stinging repudiation of President Obama, but Republicans should also feel chastened: A poll last year found Congress less popular than cockroaches.
So congratulations to those members celebrating election victories. But our democratic institutions are in trouble when they can’t outpoll cockroaches. Which didn’t even campaign.
“Politics is the noblest of professions,” President Eisenhower said in 1954, and politics in the past often seemed a bright path toward improving our country. President Clinton represented a generation that regarded politics as a tool to craft a better world, and President Obama himself mobilized young voters with his gauzy message of hope. He presented himself as the politician who could break Washington’s gridlock and get things done — and we’ve seen how well that worked.
I’m in the middle of a book tour now, visiting universities and hearing students speak about yearning to make a difference. But they are turning not to politics as their lever but to social enterprise, to nonprofits, to advocacy, to business. They see that Wendy Kopp, who founded Teach for America in her dorm room at Princeton University, has had more impact on the education system than any current senator, and many have given up on political paths to change.
A national exit poll conducted by Edison Research found that a majority of voters disapproved of Republicans and Democrats alike, and only 20 percent trust Washington to do what’s right most or all the time.