Poll: Tea Partiers disappointed in Hill leaders

Everybody disapproves of everybody these days, it seems. The Tea Party is disappointed with Republican leaders in Congress. The American people are disappointed with the Tea Party. And just 39 percent of the nation approves of President Barack Obama. Politico reports a new Pew Research Center poll stays on trend:

Almost half of Republicans polled said they aren’t happy with their party leaders’ job performances, with approval dropping 23 points since January to just 46 percent. And voters who associate with the tea party hold an even more dismal view of their House and Senate leaders — only 37 percent of tea partiers approve of the way GOP honchos on the Hill are doing their jobs. …

And as the Tea Party has become more well known, voters have begun viewing the movement much more negatively, the study also showed.

Slightly less than half of those surveyed — 43 percent — have an unfavorable of the Tea Party. Back in Feb. 2010, just 25 percent saw the movement negatively.

The survey showed that favorability has increased slightly since 2010, however, with 36 percent of those polled now saying they have a positive opinion of the Tea Party. Conservative Republicans are also still hot for the Tea Party: 73 percent have a favorable opinion of the movement, compared to 59 percent in 2010.

Sounds to me like the time is ripe for a few likable politicians.

One of the great contributions of the Tea Party to the present political climate was a renewed emphasis on conviction, as opposed to pure politics — and the recruitment of political outsiders with expertise in crucial areas like entrepreneurship, the military and, quite frankly, parenthood. But as Republican leadership has increasingly incorporated Tea Partiers in Congress, that emphasis on conviction has been painted as arbitrary stubbornness and that outsider status has been portrayed as dangerous ignorance. Tea Partiers need to remember what made them likable to independents and undecideds: In 2010, Tea Party candidates were truly “of the people.” And establishment Republicans need to remember it was the Tea Party — and not the GOP — that carried the midterm elections.

It’s an old pageant maxim that you don’t have to impress the judges — you just have to get them to like you. And while it might be true that impressive and likable wins every time, it’s equally true that impressive but unlikeable never wins. In other words, don’t dispense with the conviction — just wrap it in a pleasant package.

Actually listening to constituents would be a good place to start. Yet nearly 60 percent of House lawmakers are not holding free open-to-the-public town halls during the August recess. The D.C. disconnect will continue until lawmakers tune into the rest of the country — and until we the people take a little more responsibility for the leadership we’ve elected and do something — anything — to help pick ourselves and our neighbors up in a time of economic difficulty instead of seeking wildly to disapprove.