Congress: Least-trusted American Institution?

Just a quick entry today to point you to the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages, in which Daniel Henninger opines about the state of Americans’ confidence, spurred on by the recent publication of the annual Gallup survey of public confidence in U.S. institutions.

Summing up the percentages corresponding to enjoying a “great deal” of Americans’ confidence and “quite a lot” of Americans’ confidence, we see the U.S. military at the top of the heap, with a 71% confidence total.

At the very bottom: The U.S. Congress, possessing the confidence of a measly 12% of the American people.

You can take a look at a nice chart showing the whole list here.  There, you will see that Americans’ confidence in their own elected Congress is lower than their confidence in organized religion (48%).  Lower than their confidence in the public school system (33%).  Lower than their confidence in the Presidency (26%), in organized labor (20%), or in the criminal justice system (20%).  Even lower than their confidence in HMOs (13%).

Wow.

Perhaps some in America are beginning to see those who fill the seats in Washington D.C. as fitting what has been prophesied of our leaders in our time:

Look, the princes of Israel: each one has used his power to shed blood in you. In you they have made light of father and mother; in your midst they have oppressed the stranger; in you they have mistreated the fatherless and the widow. You have despised My holy things and profaned My Sabbaths.

…Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.

Ezekiel 22:6-8, 27

As He says in the same passage, God is looking for those willing to “stand in the gap” (Ezek. 22:30), willing to place their lives on the line, not just to make a difference, but to make the difference — the difference God is looking for.

If you’re interested in becoming such a man or woman, our websites are a great place to start: www.lcg.org and www.tomorrowsworld.org.

10 thoughts on “Congress: Least-trusted American Institution?

  1. What I’ve found with surveys like this is that people tend to dislike Congress in general — but like the individuals who represent their district or state.

    My guy/gal is OK, but everybody else is the problem.

    There seems to be a good bit of human nature reflected in that thinking.

  2. rakkav

    It’s rather like evolutionists viewing evolution: every specialist is aware of the problems with the theory in his own specialty, but assumes that other specialties have no problems worth mentioning. I’m trying to remember who pointed that out. I think I know where I can find the quote…but no matter, I digress.

    Congress at the bottom of the heap…well, it hasn’t been the first time. Ever see the play or the film *1776*? Very early on, John Adams prays (in song) to God something like this:

    I do believe You’ve laid a curse on North America,
    [Two syllabes I forget] that we now do rehearse in Philadelphia!
    A second Flood, a famine, plagues of locusts everywhere,
    A cataclysmic earthquake, I’d accept with some despair —
    But no, You gave us Congress!
    Dear God, Sir, was that fair?

    By serendipity, tonight I was reading Wikipedia’s article on “systemic bias”, and that is definitely part of the problem with Congress then and especially now. By “systemic bias” or “error”, one means that by the very nature of the system, certain outcomes are favored. Human nature is human nature, but it always concentrates where the power is. Right now that power is mostly in Congress — accounting (I infer) for its lowest rating on the totem pole.

  3. rakkav

    I think this comment by the author illustrates what I mean:

    > The reason Congress doesn’t perform is that the two parties have drifted into basic ideological disagreement on the way the world should work. So has much of the electorate. Roughly, the Democrats, with the decline of the industrial unions, are now the party of the public sector. The GOP, fitfully but without doubt, is the party of the private sector.

    Yep, human nature — in this case, *haireses* or “party spirit” (Galatians 5:20, RSV) — has crystallized in a basic way here.

    Could you, Mr. Smith, take the time (here or in some medium of the Church) to document why you say Ezekiel’s prophecy is being so specifically fulfilled? These are pretty serious charges, especially that charge about exercising their power to shed blood. I don’t mean to sound naive here, but in the case of Congress I’m more naturally inclined to agree with Hanlon’s Razor (“Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity” ) than with Ezekiel’s Hammer.

    שלום
    יוחנן רכב

  4. Howdy, Mr. Wheeler —

    I will briefly say that I tried to hedge that statement a bit (“…as fitting what has been prophesied of…”), though perhaps in too subtle a manner. Also, I should say that there are other motives other than malice that cause one to shed blood (or to cause blood to be shed). After all, no one accuses the wolf (cf. v.27) of malice, yet there is much bloodshed and tearing of the prey associated with his activities.

    That said, on the other side of things I would not ascribe the mounting carnage of the abortion industry and the cold, dark heart of many of its apologists and defenders in the political arena to mere “stupidity.”

  5. While I generally agree with the above comments, I’d like to throw a curve ball into the subject – something that might relate to Rakklav’s second comment indirectly.

    Under the Constitution, individual members of Congress are suppose to represent the political views of their particular district. That is no longer the case.

    Congressional members represent the views of their party, not their districts. The need for campaign funds is so great that a person simply cannot get elected without financing from their respective parties. That makes them beholden to the party, not members of their district.

    They will say anything to get elected, and they will flood the airways will expensive ads. After they get into office, however; they represent their party, not their district.

    The ‘founding fathers’ didn’t intend it to be that way, but that is what it has become. It’s no wonder people no longer trust the government.

    Imagine a politician saying this: “I don’t care what my party platform is; I will represent the wishes of my constituents as the Constitution instructs.”

  6. Dave Machanick

    Our elected representatives do not represent the people who elected them.
    The Democrats get 90% of the black vote, yet are against school vouchers and their policies make gasoline higher, and discriminate against lower paid workers with thier support of trade unions.
    The Republicans are supposedly pro business, but when in power showed no fiscal responsibility – completely unbusiness like – and have done nothing to help business survive the health insurance crisis.
    Both sides are responsible for outsourcing our manufacturing to China and our managing of our moral standards to Satan.

  7. rakkav

    Hi Mr. Smith,

    (Thanks first of all to Steve and Dave — both of you should know who I am behind my pen name, Johanan Rakkav. Drop by my blog if you have a spare moment, and don’t be shy about leaving comments. 🙂 You too, Mr. Smith. 😀 )

    I was mulling over how to keep from descending to mere quibbling in reply. After all, isn’t it ultimately the Supreme Court’s fault, not Congress’ fault, that abortion is allowed? Any law that might come through against abortion, even if Congress passed it, would be shot down by the Court as allegedly “unconstitutional” (due to the poor excuse of Roe vs. Wade as a precedent). And yet, isn’t Congress the institution under discussion? Its core problem is the division between political poles on various issues. That’s what makes it so ineffective, and so not-trusted, as the WSJ author points out from another angle.

    Then again, whatever we know about wolves through modern science, the Bible does use wolves as a symbol of malice — it’s a proverbial thing, universally understood as such. And yet, while some things in Congress and in other governmental branches do come from malice, Hanlon’s Razor still applies. Most of what they do comes from sheer moral stupidity — it’s closer to Isaiah’s comment about misguided leaders making the paths of the people confused. No sane person (for example) would maliciously support the killing of countless babies in the womb, especially when the same people who support abortion fight tooth and nail for unborn babies’ lives when they’re “wanted”. This points to rational and sincere, but misguided, thinking and acting. Only industrial-strength moral stupidity can account for that as a whole (leaving aside the accusation that Planned Parenthood really was founded in the first place to slow the growth of the black population).

    Really, I think that to address the problems of our society in the light of prophecy (without descending to mere quibbling), we need to take the original context more in stride. Ancient Israel was not a republic, but a monarchy, with princes ruling under the monarch. There was a division of powers between the king, the princes, the priests and the prophets, but neither the checks and balances nor the accountability to the people that the U.S. has theoretically. When the “princes” “lay in wait to shed blood”, they did so much more literally — using their power directly to kill adult people (not the unborn, save in brutal warfare that killed both mother and child). And while of course our leaders use their power to get dishonest gain, in an absolute monarchy the process can be much less subtle and much quicker — consider Ahab, Jezebel and hapless Naboth (who was both killed and robbed through blatant manipulation of the political and religious system by an absolute, lawless monarchy — that is, a tyranny).

    I believe the implication is that if we think our republic as it stands fulfills Ezekiel’s prophecy, then “we ain’t seen NUTHIN’ yet”. I’m betting that we will see real anarchy followed by real tyranny in this country, and maybe in Canada too, before it’s all over — a tyranny in which there is no moral restraint at all by the leaders or the people, and where the abuse of power is direct, hierarchical and blatant. Plato and Aristotle observed that this is how “democracies” die (progressing from anarchy to tyranny). When that happens, we’ll see prophecy fulfilled to the letter, and to an extreme that we can’t yet imagine — and that’s BEFORE we’re conquered and taken into slavery.

    Remember that I’m not arguing against hierarchy, though. Every system that works has it. But the more centralized the power, the more specialized the abuses of power can be and the more thoroughly corruption can spread through the whole population. This is what Ezekiel is talking about in his own context, and I believe we will see that context duplicated much more than it is right now.

    For what it’s worth, with my best wishes,
    יוחנן רכב

  8. Howdy, again, Mr. Wheeler —

    In my opinion, your comments on abortion and the “core problem” with Congress miss the mark (as does your absolution of Congress in favor of condemning the Supreme Court–again, in my opinion), but rather than spend any time on that I’d rather focus on your comments concerning malice & Ezekiel 22.

    (As an aside, I must say that at a certain point in one’s moral descent I would think that malice and ignorance may be indistinguishable. That is, the Grey’s Law “corollary” to Hanlon’s Razor may mean the distinction is irrelevant in some practical yet important ways! 🙂 )

    I have to disagree with your blanket comment about wolves as symbols of malice in Scripture, and I think that saying the connection is “universally understood as such” is quite an overreach (even if I provide the only exception, one is enough!). The wolf kills out of self-centeredness, without concern for the victim, to fill his own belly. (You say “modern science” as if anciently this was not known, though it certainly was — e.g., Job 38:39.) I see the Scriptures using wolves as a picture of ferocity and savagery, with malice (see definition) being far from a universally necessary assumption on all occasions. Even Paul’s use in Acts 20:29-30 does not require assumption of malice (desiring to draw disciples to oneself does not require a desire to harm them — a.k.a. malice — although that is, indeed, the ultimate effect).

    Similarly, I do not see a requirement of malice in the princes’ descriptions of Ezekiel 22, nor does your assertion provide evidence of such a requirement. Wickedness, yes, malice, no. In fact, your mention of Ahab and Naboth provides an excellent example: Naboth was not killed due to malice (desire to harm and see another suffer) on the part of Ahab or Jezebel but due to their greed and disregard for human life (the desire for his vineyard and lack of moral restraint). Yet he was certainly preyed upon as any wolf would prey. And I do, indeed, see the seeds of such approaches to life in our leadership at times. While this may seem an exaggeration, so, too, would many call Christ’s equating hate with the breaking of the commandment against murder. But the fulfillment of the latter lies in the seeds of the former.

    I did not mean to say that “our republic as it stands fulfills Ezekiel’s prophecy.” Though I poorly qualified or hedged my statement (as I suggested above), I do, indeed, mean to say that I very much see the seeds of prophetic fulfillment in the attitudes stirring in Washington D.C. I do increasingly get a sense of wolves licking their chops — seeing constituents as a means to fill one’s belly and not as a people to be served. And that is seed that ultimately yields some very bad fruit, just as hate is the seed of murder. So, in the strictest sense, I certainly do agree with you that “we ain’t seen NUTHIN’ yet” — that is, in the same sense that one who has only seen the sapling would say that he has not yet seen the oak.

    While, I think that you raise the bar too high (or drop it too low, perhaps) for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 22:27, I think that we generally agree if you are saying that the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy differs from what we see today with respect to magnitude and degree. But I could not agree with the sentiment that the spirit of Ezekiel 22 is not already present — whether it is the sapling or the acorn of Ezekiel’s oak that we see today, I will allow you to decide for yourself without further interference.

    Thanks for your comments!

  9. rakkav

    Dear Mr. Smith,

    Grey’s Law: “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.” Oh, that’s funny — and such a tip of the hat to Clarke’s Third Law, too! (As it’s meant to be an implicit rebuttal of Hanlon’s Razor, at least in extreme cases of moral decay, it’s all the more telling.)

    OK, it’s only fair to say I have to agree with your corrections, and I hope you’ll allow me the space to say so. I don’t like going that far off on a tangent in my thinking, and I welcome the course correction when I do.

    That said, as the sapling of wickedness grows into the tree, we would do well to watch how that growth affects (or even destroys) our governmental institutions. Such change will make it far easier for Ezekiel’s prophecy to be fulfilled (and even more literally), as noted. John Adams’ remarks on how such wickedness would tear through our constitutional guarantees like a whale through a net certainly apply here. (They were stated immediately before his comments that our Constitution is meant only for “a moral and religious people” and “is suitable for none other”.)

    Here is one additional element that could play into this — not related to the article on Congress. I once pointed out on another board (not long after “9-11” ) that the greater the threat of international terrorism, the greater the threat of international totalitarianism in response. Of course that relates directly to the prophetic rise of the Beast, but consider what would happen if some American city got irradiated by someone’s suitcase nuke. Or what if some other very real threat we face (financial, oil-related, weather-related, food-related, etc.) actually came to pass, as it must eventually? Martial law in the US — the thought is chilling.

    That’s it on my end. Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness!

  10. We have a lot of cayotes in my neck of the woods. They don’t kill out of malice. They kill only when they’re hungry. I have seen them sitting there, doing nothing, even though prey is only a few feet away.

    There’s a thing about cayotes, however. If you ignore them, they keep getting more and more brazen. Eventually, they will lose all respect for humans. That’s when the real trouble starts.

    I drive them away at every opportunity. I remember chasing one with my pick-up across the pasture. I will never shoot one, because they keep the field rats down, but I want them to understand that they had better respect us.

    Is there a political analogy in that? I don’t know.

    I do believe that most politicians are more concerned about self-gain than the nation as a whole. Or they’re hungry to plant “their” vision on society whatever people want. And perhaps they become more brazen over time.

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