Congress: Stop Acting Like Kids At Recess

By Connor Solms, age 17

Connor Solms is a senior at Walter Payton College Prep in Chicago. He is a participant in the Youth Narrating Our World (YNOW) through the OpEd Project. He will be graduating in January of 2014.

I am frustrated with how things in this country are progressing. I am frustrated with policy, and I'm frustrated with my lack of voice. I have reached an age -- 17 -- where I have learned enough about the world to be able to form educated opinions, and yet I am permitted absolutely no say whatsoever in how the government is run.

I mean who cares what some disgruntled 17-year-old has to say about foreign policy? I cannot even legally vote yet.

If I were a college-educated 40-something I couldn't care less about the complaints of some high school kid. However, what is really quite intriguing is that most Americans share my sentiments of frustration.

At this point our nation is divided. We seem to be playing for teams, not out of some vast ideological difference, but out of the same instinct that made rival tribes of Paleolithic humans fear and attack the 'savages' over the hill.

These instincts seem to be creating a void in the relations of our representatives on Capitol Hill; it seems more like a game played at recess with no winners.

As the year draws to a close, and Congress is paralyzed and fighting again (this time over changes in the filibuster rules and the nomination process), it seems pertinent to check in on how Americans feel about where their government has brought them.

In early December, the president received the lowest approval rating he has ever gotten -- 37 percent- -- in a CBS News poll.

In a recent USA Today/Princeton Survey Research Poll, among Republicans and those leaning Republican, 52 percent said Congress would be better off if most of its current members were replaced, and the GOP currently has most of those seats.

Earlier this season, the post-shutdown scrum has also noted that up to 27 percent of Republicans or Republican leaners who don't support the Tea Party have now adopted a less favorable rather than favorable opinion of Republican leaders. Even within a party the discontent is growing.

This is not strictly an issue that the GOP has to contend with.

Democrats are witnessing President Barack Obama's job approval rating dive this week to the lowest approval rating he has ever gotten. That record low arrives months after he received an approval rating of 44.5 percent in his 19th quarter. That low is only .6 percent higher than where George W. Bush was viewed in his 19th quarter, according to a recent Gallup poll.

This can most likely be attributed to the disaster, NSA leaks and recent Syria weapons debacle. It also doesn't help that in a recent AP poll, approximately 53 percent of Americans disapproved of the way Obama handled the government shutdown.

This current disgust with the government transcends party lines. In the USA Today/ Princeton poll, 47 percent said Congress would be better off if every single member were replaced next year.

Only 4 percent said that Congress would be worse off if every member were changed. Notably, 4 percent is the margin of error for this study.

Clearly the American people are fed up with those who allegedly represent their interests, as Congress has managed to achieve an 84.4 percent disapproval rating, according to a Real Clear Politics aggregate poll.

Add to that the current dissatisfaction and outrage over the Affordable Health Care Act sign-up, CNN posted a recent disapproval rating of Congress at 86 percent.

The worst part of all this is that it isn't over yet. Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, recently was quoted in USA Today: "The telling moment will come in January and February, when we face another debt limit and a possible shutdown."

Our representatives have showed that they simply can't work together to accomplish much of anything. All they've accomplished is pushing off our economic troubles, and with losing steam out of the gate due to the horrific state of the site launch, we can expect more disgruntled Americans.

Keep in mind the upcoming Congressional Elections a year from now and Congress' 5 percent approval rating, we may see some things get radically shaken up.

I will finally be able to vote in the next congressional elections, and I know I will be sending a message to our current leaders. It seems as if all Americans will, too.