[March 11, 2014] The headlines scream “the worst Congress ever.” That is probably not true if measured by important legislation because there have been plenty of years very little of substance is done. What we may be seeing is that the real issue causing so much dysfunction in Congress today may be a lack of senior leadership.
If one looks at approval ratings of the current 113th Congress, public opinion is at its lowest since opinion polling began. Certainly, Congress is not just failing to resolve issues of importance, but attacking itself – one party pitted against the other, often over unimportant matters. The American people know leadership when they see it and know when it is lacking too.
I believe it was President Harry Truman that first labeled the 80th Congress the “do nothing Congress” – his way of saying it was the worst Congress ever. If the number of laws passed measures doing something, then “yes” the 113th Congress is performing poorly like the 80th.
Most political scholars believe that legislation, as a measure of success, should not be based on the quantity of laws passed but the quality and significance of that legislation. The good news is that at least there is debate on many significant issues, albeit emotional and nasty.
For example, discussions are being held on tax reform, immigration reform, health care (specifically the ACA), federal overspending, environmental issues, and transportation legislation. Prospects for any compromise however, that would translate into a bill to go before the President are very slim.
Good leadership, as discussed here, is not being practiced. Furthermore, there is little prospect that it will be in the near future. The President has not taken on the role of arbitrator and has not shown the way for them to lead. Another opportunity is sacrificed for the sake of partisanship.
The American public is slowly realizing that the Congress is not representing them very well. Yet, the re-election rate remains high. When this changes, and only when the public begins voting against a dysfunctional government, will things begin to change. It does not appear that there is a senior leader who is willing to step up into the ring of fire and lead.
[Don’t forget to “Like” the Leader Maker at our Facebook Page.]
See also a related blog post on “Americans Dissatisfied with US Government” at: https://www.theleadermaker.com/americans-dissatisfied-with-u-s-govt/
Also, see Secretary of Defense Robert Gates book on his low opinion of Congress at: https://www.theleadermaker.com/robert-gates-book-and-senior-leadership/