Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Negative political approval ratings nothing to be surprised about these days

Let's be honest. We can't stand the people we elect to political office.

Seriously, most people vote these days against the person they absolutely cannot stand. It has nothing to do with picking the person whose ideals most represent ours.

SO SHOULD IT be any wonder that our government is bogged down in politically partisan nonsense? We have government officials who can't play nice. It's no wonder we can't stand them!

The latest bit of evidence of this concept came Monday from the Chicago Tribune, where the newspaper published the results of a poll showing only 27 percent of those surveyed approve of the job performance of Rahm Emanuel as mayor.

All those negative reports about the police department under Emanuel singling non-white people out for abuse are taking their toll, with the hostility being most intense amongst African-American people.

It seems white people are a little more tolerant of Emanuel's behavior. Although not enough to say they approve. I suspect many just wish we'd stop talking about the issue altogether. Actually fixing the problem is something that goes far beyond anyone's expectations.

YET I DON'T think Emanuel is in any danger of being removed from office anytime before his scheduled 2019 end-of-term. That is, unless he just gets sick and tired of the whining and screaming that occurs about his name.

Because the reality is that the public probably would despise anyone who tried to replace Rahm as mayor. We the people have a cynical enough view of our government that we just don't trust it -- in large part because we really don't agree upon what its purpose ought to be.

For all those people who expect government to maintain certain services to support the public at-large, there are others who have such a limited viewpoint of government and what it ought to attempt to do.

I remember once covering a municipal hearing as a reporter-type person in which a man said he believed the only function of government ought to be to maintain a police department. Doing anything else was a waste of taxpayer funds, and of stuff that people ought to be permitted to do for themselves.

WE DON'T AGREE. And I'm sure some of us merely mistrust anyone who would want to think of running for elective office. Hence, the knee-jerk reaction is to say we "disapprove" of anything government-related.

Take one Illinois Policy Action poll from last year, which showed only 39 percent of people approved of Gov. Bruce Rauner, compared to 20 percent for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and 9.8 percent for the Illinois General Assembly as a whole.

All of that inability to put together a budget and keep government functions running will take its toll.

A We Ask America poll also had Madigan at a 20 percent rating. Not that it matters. Because the only people who vote for Madigan proper are those in his Southwest Side legislative district -- and they like the idea of having as their local representative the mighty Speaker of the House of Representatives.

LET'S ALSO REMEMBER that Republicans have failed in past election cycles when they have tried to brand all Democrats as Mike Madigan lackeys. It came across as sour grapes by political losers.

There even was former Gov. Pat Quinn, whom Rasmussen polls had at only 38 percent approval rating back in 2010 -- when he managed to win re-election as governor against Republican Bill Brady.

People might not have liked Quinn personally. But they voted against the idea of a blatantly rural politico being in charge of the state back in that election cycle.

And even though they picked Bruce Rauner to be governor over Quinn in 2014, it seems that Rauner now has disapproval ratings in the majority, with only 36 percent liking the job he's doing, according to polls by the Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

SO I'D SAY that Emanuel's approval rating (about one in four people actually like the job he's doing these days) certainly isn't pathetic. It's not as bad as the 7 percent approval ranking that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich sank to.

But even Milorod was never actually defeated by the public. He won his bid for re-election in 2006, and it took the legislators themselves to remove Rod through the impeachment process.

The same legislators who themselves have less than a 10 percent approval rating -- if these surveys are to be taken at all seriously.


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