If Polls Ruled: Would Congress finally cooperate?

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series If Polls Ruled
US Capitol Dome divided

Click on this image to read my January 4 column on political polarization.

Should public opinion rule?

All week, we’ve looked at this question by examining public support of key proposals Obama outlined in his State of the Union address. Many of his proposals have majority support among the American people: raising the minimum wage and strengthening labor unions, using military force against ISIL and ending the trade embargo with Cuba, and strengthening environmental controls. Americans disagree, however, with his intention to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

Today, we consider the issue of congressional cooperation itself. Obama called for more cooperation across the political divide. Many Americans see the lack of cooperation as a major issue. In 2014, complaints about government leadership—Congress, Obama, and political conflict in general—topped the list of the most important problems facing the nation, according to Gallup.

As we started this new year, I identified political gridlock in Washington among five major issues Americans will face throughout 2015. My earlier column pointed out that rising numbers of Americans think that one political party, or the other, represents a threat to the nation.

Now, in this Gallup data, we see more than half of Americans urging compromise across the political chasm. Fifty-three percent of Americans say that it’s more important for our political leaders in Washington to compromise than to stick to their beliefs.

Most Americans agree with the president that we should have more cooperation and civility across the political divide. However, given Republican control of the House and Senate, and a Democrat as president, more cooperation doesn’t seem likely.

Do you want our leaders to compromise or stick to their beliefs?
Would members of Congress finally cooperate if they used public opinion to make policy?
Would you like to see “rule by poll”?

Your opinion matters

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