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Confidence in federal government low

Rochester Business Journal
August 1, 2014

RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll respondents are not very impressed with the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government.

This year marks 225 years since the U.S. government was formed with three branches. The separation of powers and the authority given to each branch come from the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified on June 21, 1788.

Readers gave the U.S. Supreme Court the highest confidence rating, with 45 percent saying they have confidence in that branch.

By contrast, 12 percent of readers express confidence in Congress and 27 percent said they have faith in the presidency.

From the beginning, Americans have voiced strong opinions about the federal government, and levels of confidence have varied. Since 1991, Gallup has conducted nationwide polls to track Americans’ confidence in each of the three branches; the results have ranged from a high of 72 percent (for the presidency, in 1991) to a low of 7 percent (for Congress). The record low for Congress came in Gallup’s June 2014 poll, when the Supreme Court also hit its all-time low: 30 percent. The presidency, at 29 percent, was at a six-year low.

More than 800 readers participated in this week’s Snap Poll, conducted July 28 and 29.

Overall, do you have confidence in the three branches of the federal government?
Congress  Yes:  12%  No:  88%
Presidency  Yes:  27%  No:  73%
Supreme Court  Yes: 45%  No:  55%

A government of lawyers, by lawyers and for lawyers will wipe the American republic from the face of the earth. It is as if these power ravenous locusts swarming out of our Ivy League law schools are entitled to resume the position of clerics administering the next Dark Ages.
—Arne Ericsson

Confidence in what? That they’ll continue to operate with some basic level of effectiveness? Yes. That they’ll continue to do what’s best for the country? Maybe not. That they’ll set aside ideological rigidity and work toward compromise? Depends on the branch.
—Matthew D. Wilson

Since the 2000 election decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has been heading down a troubled path. With its more recent decisions, including its horrible 2010 Citizens United decision and now its Hobby Lobby decision, the court has lost all credibility. The Roberts court has become completely unhinged from reality. The (Supreme) Court is in desperate need of common sense for the common man (and woman).
—Megan Connor Murphy

It’s all politics, ideology and personal enrichment now.
—Dan Hespen

Until Congress exercises separation of powers and checks this lawless president, I have great difficulty having confidence in them. I have never seen such blatant disregard for the Constitution in my entire life. “We the People” need to stand up to tyranny in November with our vote. Thomas Jefferson famously said: “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.”
—Joe Dattilo

Where are the true Americans, representatives who have read and understand the Constitution?
—John L. Sackett Jr.

The federal government has aggregated too much power to be effective. In a nation so large, with such diverse values, a central government cannot pass laws that will be supported by a large majority of citizens. The founders wrote a Constitution that specified a social contract to provide for protection against physical harm and fraud—and very little else. A hundred years into the progressive movement, government has vastly overreached the original intention. Making matters worse, the government still runs on a 19th-century bureaucratic organization model that is unresponsive, costly and beyond the control of the executives charged with running it, as recent scandals at the Veterans Administration and the IRS have demonstrated.
—John Calia, Vistage International

The amount of money flowing into political campaigns is fueling corruption across the board. This money/corruption is a threat to our treasured democracy. Every option, including public financing of campaigns, needs to be looked at to address this threat.
—Sig VanDamme

Congress has the worst leaders: Boehner, Pelosi, Reid, McConnell; they need to be replaced. The president is the most unqualified in the past 60 years and is surrounded by advisers who give him bad advice. The Supreme Court—although they make decisions that I don’t always agree with—I think are most qualified as compared with Congress and the president.
—J. Camar

We’re in a mess. Congressional districts have been drawn to favor dominance from one party or another, creating virtually “safe” seats. We citizens don’t like paying for a Congress that doesn’t get anything done. Yet, we citizens are polarized, too. It would help if leaders tried harder to show ways to be functional.
—Carolyn Phinney Rankin

Congress, sometimes. This president, no. The Supreme Court, yes more often than no. A good president inspires confidence and sets the tone for the other two branches of the federal government. We have not had a real leader in the White House for six years. The previous president (while sometimes misguided) did lead and owned his decisions. It’s time for a course correction.
—George Thomas, Ogden

I have confidence in the American government. It is the current administration that I have issue with. Adherence to the Constitution and our laws needs to be the path forward. I call for impeachment of Obama for his violation of his oath of office. That charge would eliminate three-fourths of our current politicians. So be it!
—Lou Romano

The lack of term limits has created a culture of professional politicians that spends more time posturing for re-election than getting their job done.
—Eric Muench

I think a fourth category to measure is government agencies. Based on all the scandals, biases and just plain poor decisions over the past five years by these agency operatives and leaders, I have lost substantial regard for our federal government agencies with the IRS and State Department at the top of the list.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan

Two hundred twenty-five years is a long time, and many things can go wrong. One of the things that went wrong is the three distinctly separate branches have lost their way and usurp authority not originally placed with them.
—JA DePaolis

I’m speechless. Mental exams for anyone who does have confidence. Paid for by the ACA, of course.
—Bill Lanigan

This nation was formed by men who had experienced government overreach, little freedoms and general tyranny from a governing class. They understood the checks and balances that needed to be in place to ensure a free nation ultimately governed by its people. We are quickly losing our country, and I fear our citizens are not able to protect it as the founders created it. If we don’t all stand up for these principles, our nation will eventually cease to exist. Think of the cost it would be for all Americans and indeed the rest of the world.
—Todd Alan

The federal government has grown too large and lost touch with everyday people. It doesn’t believe that people are capable of making their own decisions. And it has become overly politicized—not focused on helping us take care of the issues that we can’t individually solve. And left to our own devices, I believe that individually and collectively, we can solve most of our problems. Our forefathers did it, and America prospered then. Maybe there is a connection between the size and scope of government two generations ago and our greatness then, and the size and scope of the government now and our current stagnation.
—Dave Iadanza, Farmington

Politicians and judges (on both sides of aisle) in all three branches of government are more interested in keeping their jobs and increasing their power than they are in doing the people’s business. Two things need to change before anything will improve: 1) term limits; and 2) every politician must abide by and live by the same laws they require us to live by. Those two things would go a long way to bringing back some trust and confidence by “We the People.”
—David Wagner

This activist Roberts Supreme Court has turned upside down our nation’s founding principles of a government by and for the people. Defining corporations as a “person” is a travesty of democracy in our republic. It will take a long time to right the wrongs of this Supreme Court. They are changing our nation’s motto from “Let Freedom Rule” to “Let Money Rule.” It’s a shame.
—John Osowski

I believe in our form of government. The problem is that those in power or who disagree don’t. Winning is more important than governing. We need to change the way we choose our legislators to take us back to constitutional government.
—Art North

Our country is being led by an incompetent president and aided by Harry Reid, who will not bring issues to a vote that are not part of the progressive agenda. The midterm elections can’t come soon enough!
—Dave Coriale, Webster

What this president has done grieves me deeply. With promises of hope, transparency and unity, he has succeeded in dividing us more deeply. Rather than finding what unites us, he has focused on exploiting our differences to achieve his political ends. We are in desperate need of a man of honor who will call us all back to what has made us great—rather than lead us over a cliff in two warring factions.
—D. Kennedy

The government has truly lost focus of what a country such as ours is as of late ... tax and spend, tax and spend. … We have also lacked a clear choice for a true leader who has clear interest in the betterment of the country as a whole. Unfortunately, if we don’t change as a country, we won’t change a whole. All of our ball players are on different teams. We will not win the game.
—Matt Nicodemus, High Performance Heating and Cooling

Between the emails at the IRS, the mishandling of the Benghazi terror incident, the lies, the cover-ups and Obama’s pending impeachment, I’m not sure anyone could have much confidence in today’s federal government.
—John Midolo, RCM Strategies LLC

I have total confidence in the federal government as defined by the Constitution. I have zero confidence in the political hacks who currently occupy the positions in the branches. They are there for personal influence, power and ego. The positions are bought by self-serving lobbyists and their clients. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has been corrupted by the undue influence of the president and his cronies in Congress. When a campaign for even a two-year term in the House costs millions and the job pays less than $200,000, there is sure to be corruption in the system. We have the best government that money can buy. Those last four words define the problem. Very strict term limits could eliminate the problem in Congress: six-year max in either house.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield

Someone has to keep some of the state governments in check. Can you imagine if we turned the likes of Jan Brewer of Arizona and Sam Brownback of Kansas loose on all the citizens of this country? Congress is in a league by itself, but the Supreme Court doesn't appear to be doing its job. Compared to the vast majority of countries in the world, our federal government appears be doing a pretty good job.
—Peter Bonenfant

Do you?
—Rich Calabrese Jr., Rochester.

My hope is that soon, very soon, Americans will wake up, and upon awakening, they read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. Finally, in those first lucid moments they will realize that our government has deteriorated to the point of being unrecognizable to our nation's founding fathers. The Congress, comprised of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, has shirked their constitutional duties over party affiliation. The Supreme Court, who over the years has not interpreted the Constitution as written (and it was written in clear concise English), but rather considered how to misinterpret it because someone determined that a word could “also” mean something else—gobbledygook. Finally, the presidency, the executive; as of late we have a president who rules by executive order—dictates. If he doesn't like something, he orders it to be as he wishes and ignores the Congress and even the courts. He has become a dictator. If anyone takes the time to simply read the Declaration of Independence it should become obvious that “We the People” have allowed our government to whither into a tyranny over the governed by using entities like the Dept. of Homeland Security, the NSA, and worse, the IRS. "We the People” have surrendered our liberty to secure a mirage of freedom.
—Michael F. Kloppel, chairman, Ontario County Conservative Party

There is an aphorism often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, with which I strongly agree: "The government that governs best is the government that governs least." The Founders put into the Constitution gradualism and incrementalism, so that legislative change comes slowly through checks and balances between the three branches of government. We could go a long way toward fixing the Senate and the House of Representatives by putting limits on the terms served, just as there is a limit of two on the terms a president can serve. I'm for 1) smaller government; 2) lower taxes; and 3) a strong military. Oddly, one of the most inspiring things I ever heard was spoken by Al Gore: "There is no government program better than a job." I wish both parties could live up to that.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D.

There is nothing wrong with the structure of our government. We have the most effective government of any ever created! To govern a nation on the scale of the United States, in the size of both physical and population, the Framers were acutely aware of the ability to use and abuse power, therefore created separation of powers and checks and balances between the three branches of the central government and our federal system, which defines and denies certain powers to the states and central government, and identifies some that are concurrent. As we all know, the Bill of Rights identifies protections for individuals and for the states. Ongoing flexibility is provided by the Elastic Clause, and the Supremacy Clause, and the ability to amend. The proof of the superiority of our structure is in our history as a diverse nation. We have escaped the internal wars over religious and ethnic rights evidenced in far too many other nations and regions of the world. Beyond the initial ten Amendments, we have found it necessary to amend the document only 17 more times because our changing needs can be met with its flexible construction, but in amending, have enshrined more rights, more protections, not fewer. Having said that, we have elected many people to Congress who have competing views of and goals for our government. Many of whom have rejected reason and negotiating to achieve compromise in the interest of the whole. Rather than taking an irrational "throw-the-bums-out" attitude, it is our obligation to use the magnificent structure we have to demand that our representatives realize that they have a dual obligation. One, to represent the will of their constituents, and two, to represent the best interests of country as a whole. The current crop of criticisms, charges, counter-charges and obstructive maneuvers in the House and Senate betray the Framers and the citizens today. The old saying, we get the government we deserve, is true if we do not stay current in our knowledge of national and world affairs, communicate with the members of Congress and the president, and do not vote in primaries and general elections. Unfortunately, apathy creates the government we don't deserve if few of us take seriously our responsibilities as citizens.
—Lola Kelly

Congress is completely dysfunctional. There is little to no bipartisan action in either house of Congress. Both sides of the aisle do nothing more than block anything the other party tries to accomplish and they spend all of their time demonizing each other. The Republicans block everything the president tries to do even if it’s something they were in favor of in the past, for example, patent reform. The Supreme Court is supposed to be non-political but clearly isn't based on the number of 5-to-4 votes that run along party lines. Unfortunately, there is no end in sight to the gridlock and partisanship in Washington, D.C. Until the American public wakes up and stops voting the same idiots into office we will have to live with inaction from our elected officials. The answer is to start electing independent and third-party candidates and end the gridlock created by the current two-party system.
—David Belcher, LeRoy

No. 1: Too much campaign money, we are choosing only candidates with the ability to raise millions of dollars. No. 2: Campaigns are mud wrestling funded by anonymous special interest propaganda machines PACs. No. 3: The federal government is awash in money that promotes bloated inefficient government. Agencies such as NSA, CIA and FBI routinely overstep their bounds. And, No. 4: ideology trumps leadership: which brings you back to No. 1, a system awash in money. I have zero confidence that executive, legislative or judicial branches are taking the country in the right direction for the average citizen.
—Wayne Donner, Rush

8/1/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

7/25/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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