Performance appraisal is a recurring theme in government agencies. Last week, we gave our readers a chance to do their own performance appraisal–of Congress and their own Congressional representatives. What do our readers think of Congress’ performance?
Not very much and it is safe to say you aren’t afraid to express an opinion, at least in an anonymous survey. 30% of readers responding gave Congress the lowest rating possible. Another 42% rated Congress just slightly better than that (2 out of the highest rating of 5). 1% really liked the performance of Congress and gave the institution the highest possible rating while another 5% rated Congress’ performance as a 4.
To put readers’ opinions in the clearest terms, 72% of readers gave our national legislative body as performing poorly.
If readers give Congress low marks over all, how do they rate their own representatives? A little better but not much higher. Starting from a positive perspective, 5% gave their own representatives the highest possible rating. Another 14% gave their representatives a rating of 4.
In other words, 19% gave their own representatives very high marks while 6% rated Congress as an institution with the same high marks.
On the lower end of the scale, 31% gave their own Congressional representatives the lowest possible rating and another 27% gave them 2 on a scale of 1-5. So 58% of readers rated their own representatives with the lowest possible scores.
If our readers are any indication of how the voting public feels, incumbents may be in trouble when they are up for election.
The comments we received were often blistering. The most common negative comment was that those in Congress are looking out for their own interests and the interests of large contributors to their campaigns. A reader from Vermont wrote:
“Vermont is Al Queda friendly with socialists running the show. Our legislators would put our country at risk for their own political gains.”
A reader from California said: “There is entirely too much partisan politics. Toeing to the party line without consideration as to the best interests of the American people is detrimental to good government.”
A Florida reader expressed the views of some who think their representatives have been taken over by special interests in Washington: “Congress is choking within the vacuum of the Washington Beltway! Their deliberations and their views do not represent those of us out in the mainstream of American life. Even when they come ‘home’, the folks they associate with represent the aristocratic levels to which they are accoustomed (sic). Most of the issues tying up Congress would matter to no one but themselves”
And a reader from Pensacola, FL said: “Our current representatives are nothing more than party hacks. An original thought or proposal would more than likely kill them.”
Some news articles in recent years have commented on the fact that Congress often receives low marks but the individual representatives are held in high regard and keep getting elected. And, while most comments were negative, there were also some positive sentiments.
For example, a human resources specialist from Hadley, Massachusetts wrote: “Our folks (from Massachusetts) are generally doing the best they can with what little they have.”
And a reader from West Virginia says: “One (the junior senator) is excellent to very good, my cong. rep is a loser!”
As you might expect, some readers blamed one party or the other for their reaction. A reader with the Dept. of Agriculture in Gainesville, Florida said: “The Republicans are doing as best they can while the Democrates (sic) don’t have the brain God gave a turtle.”
But a reader from Alaska had a different view: “The current republican congress is one of the scariest I can remember in my 59 years.”
And an office automation clerk from the USDA in Portland, OR blames voters for the problems in Congress. “I will let my responses speak for themselves. The congress in most part is beholden to their constituents as we hold out our hands, palms up, to gimme, gimme. With no regard as to the cost of the program, services and pork barreling. You might say we, as the voting public, are just as responsible for the mess we are in as the congressmen/women that make the decisions. ”
Thanks to all of you who took the time to vote in this survey and to send in your opinion.