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Washington D.C. — Discord and Contention

Posted on: August 3rd, 2011 by Larry

President Obama said Americans voted for a divided government in the last election, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional one. To say that Americans are not impressed by the way Congress is tackling important problems would be an understatement. See the video.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press finds that people on both ends of the political spectrum (and everywhere in between) agree that the recent debt and deficit negotiations in Congress were a real embarrassment. The survey found 72% used terms such as “ridiculous,” “disgusting,” “stupid” and “frustrating” to describe what went on. Only two percent found something nice to say.

The intersection of personal conduct and professional responsibility seems to be shifting, and not for the better.

  • What would happen if people in your classroom or workplace handled problems like the members of Congress handled the deficit negotiations? How do you think your teacher or manager would react?
  • Is this just the way things are now or will the pendulum swing back to a more civil discourse on Capitol Hill?
  • What is an elected official’s responsibility to the people that he or she serves? Is it to poll voters to see what they want? Or should an elected official act on his or her own best judgment?
  • Are elected officials too concerned with getting re-elected? Would term limits for the House and Senate help?
  • Freedom of speech is a constitutional guarantee. But do the news media bear some responsibility for how far things have deteriorated in government?