Still, the fact that candidates are talking about fixing Congress means they believe this is what Americans want. If they do well enough in the elections, perhaps incumbent members will notice that the people want Congress to get its act together, and to begin to address seriously our long list of problems.
Let’s hope so, because here’s my fear. Congress is already derided at home as bumbling and ineffective. The perception abroad is even more worrisome: Capitol Hill’s inability to act is seen as a key piece of America’s decline as a superpower. If it turns out that we’ve got several more years of drift and dysfunction ahead of us, then the institution that our founders considered to be the keystone of American democracy risks becoming not part of the solution, but the core of the problem.
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. The Center on Congress is a research center of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University Bloomington.