A friend and client sent me a copy of the prayer that was delivered by the Rev. Brian Konkol, Chaplain of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, to open the legislative session at the Minnesota State Capital on May 8, 2015. I was glad to see that prayer is still allowed in this setting, and the words he delivered were powerful. He prayed for unity, refined clarity, and principled visions. He prayed that we become more passionate and compassionate people, and that we honor the movement of peace. After reading the prayer, I thought that if our politicians could just follow the desires and petitions the Reverend outlined so well, this country would be such a better place to live in. Working together “across the aisle” and compromise are great election themes, but they seem to be antiquated ideas with our politicians after the elections are over.
The results of the Congressional Job Approval poll by Gallup bear this out, as ratings remain near historical lows, currently at 19%. Here is the chart for the last 15 years based on Gallup’s survey:
I found it interesting and encouraging that the two biggest spikes in the approval rating for Congress occurred during times of great crisis in our country: the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001 and the peak and end of the Great Recession in early 2009. Congress had the ability to set aside political differences and unite towards common goals, both in protecting our security in 2001 and stabilizing our economy in 2009. When the pressure was on, Congress came through for the good of our country.
Picking on the politicians is easy to do, but they are elected by us and they are a reflection of us. I’m reminded of the quote by cartoonist Walt Kelly, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Everyone wants change, they just want it to be the other person that changes! If we want our politicians to work together, then we ourselves must be willing to compromise first. Then we might actually see the prayers of Reverend Konkol be answered, and I’m guessing we might see the Congressional approval rating rise, too.