The whole debt ceiling fight undermined public trust and confidence in government, according to a noted pollster. As Dan Balz reports, Bill McInturff says: “The perception of how Washington handled the debt ceiling negotiation led to an immediate collapse in confidence in government and all the major players, including President Obama and Republicans in Congress.”
The American system of government was designed to allow gridlock, and the default assumption has usually been that doing anything big requires big consensus, not just 51% of the votes. But now both ends of the political spectrum are calling for major policy changes and each side can block the other. President Obama is boxed in both by the partisanship of his opponents and by his own political persona, which during and since 2008 has been to portray himself above the fray, unwilling to fight purely partisan battles.
Sadly, when people lose trust in their political institutions, it takes a long time and a lot of effort to restore it.