It’s a classic paradox of American democracy: citizens love America, hate Congress, but generally like their own district’s Congressman. (Until they don’t, and then they vote for someone else, who they usually like).
Huder points out something even more paradoxical: Congressional approval takes a hit not just when there’s a scandal, or when there’s partisan gridlock in the face of a crisis, but even when Congress works together to pass major legislation:
By simply doing its job Congress can alienate large parts of its constituency. So while people like their legislators, they dislike when they get together with fellow members and legislate.
From this, Huder concludes that “disapproval is built into the institution’s DNA.” But let me come at this from a different angle: professional and/or sports.
There’s almost an exact isomorphism here. Fans/constituents like/love their home teams (unless their performance suffers for an extended period of time, when they switch to “throw the bums out” mode), and LOVE the game itself. But nobody really likes the league. Who would say, “I love the MLB” or “I love the NCAA” — meaning the actual organizations themselves?
Never! The decisions of the league are always suspect. They’re aggregate, bureaucratic, necessary, and not the least bit fun. Even when leagues make the right decision, we discount it; they’re just “doing their job.” The only time they can really capture our attention is when they do something awful. And most of the time, they’re just tedious drags on our attention, easily taken for granted.
If it’s a structure, it doesn’t seem to be limited to politics. It’s a weird blend of local/pastime attachment, combined with contempt/misunderstanding for the actual structures that work. Because we don’t *want* to notice them at work at all, really.