Early June was once a rather tense time of year. School was ending and soon an envelope would arrive. For you younger readers this was called a letter and it was the accredited method of saying something to someone who was not standing right in front of you.

The envelope would contain an evaluation of your efforts during the school year, which – again for you younger readers – might not sound threatening. It was called a report card.

Before the dawn of helicopter parents, safe spaces, sensitivity training and lawyers, report cards had meaning. They might tell you that you had just spent a year exerting yourself in no discernable way at all, or that you were really rather a dimwit or that you had the athletic prowess of a garden slug.

These things are no longer allowed to be said lest the delicate crystal of a child’s ego be permanently damaged, or worse, the delicate crystal of a type-A parent’s hopes that her aspiring third grader is destined for Harvard.

Well now!

Somebody did just receive a old style report card and it was our dear friend the federal government. The report card was in the form of a poll that would rank the lay about, the dimwit and the garden slug among the Olympians by comparison.

Americans truly hate their government and those they distrust who run it.

Some readers will recognize Ron Faucheux who works for Clarus Research Group and sends out a daily email called Lunchtime Politics. Today he provided data from a survey conducted by his firm for Common Good between April 24 and 29, 2016. (Sample: 1,000 self-identified registered voters nationwide (margin of error = +/- 3.1%). Live telephone survey interviewing both landline and cell).

I am reversing the order of his commentary and the results in deference to those who suffer skin disorders when in the presence of numbers.

Large majorities of voters think poorly of the Washington political culture:

  • 86% agree that Washington politicians, lobbyists, consultants and policy makers are out of touch with the rest of the country.
  • Additionally, 85% agree that the political culture in Washington is so corrupting that it’s very difficult for anyone, or any political party, to make needed change happen.
  • 80% of voters blame poor management for bad decision-making in Washington, while 84% blame extreme partisanship.
  • Interesting to note that partisans are more likely to blame extreme partisanship than are independents (90% and 83% vs. 77%).
  • Apparently, partisans see extreme partisanship in, well, partisan terms: They point the finger against one another. Republicans, more than Democrats, blame poor management for bad decision-making (88% vs. 65%).
  • On reforms: 81% of voters support changing the civil service system to make it easier to reorganize government agencies and cut spending (76% of Democrats and 87% of Republicans agree).
  • Also, 74% favor reforms to make it easier to fire government employees who are no longer needed (62% of Democrats and 81% of Republicans agree).
  • On another reform: 69% of voters want to create an independent commission of private citizens to study government operations to determine what needs to be cut and how management can be improved in each department. Majorities of voters from both parties––53% of Democrats and 77% of Republicans––support this proposal.

Now for the poll results themselves.

Here are the instructions: “I am now going to read a few statements. For each one, please tell me if you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with each one…”

“The political culture in Washington, D.C. is so corrupting that it’s very difficult for anyone, or any political party, to make needed change happen.”

All voters % / D % / R% / I%

Strongly agree: 64% / 62% / 66% / 63%

Somewhat agree: 21% / 17% / 24% / 21%

Somewhat disagree: 6% / 7% / 6% / 5%

Strongly disagree: 5% / 8% / 3% / 6% /

“The people who run Washington––including politicians, lobbyists, consultants and policy makers––are out of touch with the rest of the country.”

All voters % / D % / R% / I%

Strongly agree: 70% / 63% / 73% / 75%

Somewhat agree: 16% / 20% / 16% / 9%

Somewhat disagree: 6% / 8% / 5% / 5%

Strongly disagree: 3% / 2% / 2%/ 9%

“Poor management is responsible for most of the bad decision-making in Washington.”

All voters % / D % / R% / I%

Strongly agree: 56% / 43% / 66% / 50%

Somewhat agree: 24% / 22% / 22% / 28%

Somewhat disagree: 9% / 12% / 8% / 8%

Strongly disagree: 6% / 12% / 2% / 9%

“Extreme political partisanship is responsible for most of the bad decision-making in Washington.”

All voters % / D % / R% / I%

Strongly agree: 54% / 59% / 54% / 46%

Somewhat agree: 30% / 31% / 29% / 31%

Somewhat disagree: 8% / 5% / 9% / 8%

Strongly disagree: 4% / 2% / 2% / 7%

“Would you support creating an independent commission of private citizens to study government operations to determine what needs to be cut and how management can be improved in each department?”

All voters % / D % / R% / I%

Yes: 69% / 53% / 77% / 69%

No: 25% / 37% / 19% / 25%

“Would you support changing the civil service system to make it easier to reorganize government agencies and cut spending?”

All voters % / D % / R% / I%

Yes: 81% / 76% / 87% / 72%

No: 13% / 16% / 9% / 19%

“Would you support changing the civil service system to make it easier to fire government employees who are no longer needed?”

All voters % / D % / R% / I%

Yes: 74% / 62% / 81% / 82%

No: 19% / 33% / 13% / 8%

Have a nice summer Washington. The lay abouts, the dimwits and the garden slugs have earned their time off. Too bad for us that you haven’t.

 

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