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10% of Americans like Congress: Are they nuts?

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 12:16 PM EDT, Wed October 2, 2013
A woman buys the New York Daily News with a headline that reflects what many Americans think about Congress.
A woman buys the New York Daily News with a headline that reflects what many Americans think about Congress.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN poll shows Congress has only a 10% approval rating.
  • Dean Obeidallah asks "Who are these people?" and goes in search of them
  • Nobody admitted to being a "Ten Percenter," but lots of people speculated on them
  • Obeidallah: Vote out the bums who burn down government to advance their careers

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the co-director of the new comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" which was released this month. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- Our Congress sucks. This is truly one of the few things we agree on. In fact, a new CNN poll released earlier this week found that Congress has only a 10% approval rating.

When you think that 10% of Americans believe Congress is doing a good job, you have to ask yourself one question: Who are these people?! (Imagine this asked with true Jerry Seinfeld-esque exasperation.)

Congress is so dysfunctional that dictators in other countries are probably pointing at it as an example of why you should never have a democracy.

Yet, somehow, about 30 million Americans are looking at what Congress is doing and thinking: "I like what I see."

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

If you actually think Congress is doing a good job, something is terribly awry in your life. People in your family need to stage an immediate intervention.

I was so intrigued by these people who have such horribly low standards (where were they when I was still dating?) that I went on to social media to find them. I posed questions on Facebook and Twitter asking if anyone is among this exclusive club known to me as the "Ten Percenters."

What was the response? No one admitted to it. But a few offered theories regarding who these people could be:

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"It's probably friends and family of Congress," Ahmed Elsayed posted on Facebook.

"Ten percent of Americans are in a COMA?!?!" Laurence Cruz tweeted. I'm pretty confident he's not related to Sen. Ted Cruz.

Keith Conrad tweeted a cynical but possibly accurate view: "Some people just want to watch the world burn."

How could it be that no one knows who these people are? Could it be that those who said they approved of Congress were kidding? Perhaps the pollster asked, "Do you think Congress is doing a good job?" and they responded: "Fabulous," but they meant that sarcastically?

Because all I can say is -- If you do know people who actually believe Congress is doing a good job, please watch over them carefully. These are the type of people that lead to warning labels on products like bleach that state "Do not drink" and on blow dryers that read: "For external use only."

To help me in my search, if you know someone who's a Ten Percenter, or if you're among that rare breed and want to explain yourself, please tweet @CNNOpinion.

Let's get back to the real issue: Congress. Besides mocking it with lines like, "Congress is now less popular than syphilis," what can actually be done to remedy the situation?

Some say we should impeach or recall Congress. Well, you can't. The Constitution only provides one procedure to remove members of Congress. Want to guess who decides on when that happens? Yup, it's Congress.

It takes a two-thirds vote of Congress itself to expel a member. The only people who think that Congress would vote themselves out of a job that pays $174,000 a year plus health benefits are the 10% of Americans who think Congress is doing a good job.

Can we realistically hope that since the congressional approval rating is so low that there will be a big house cleaning in the 2014 midterm elections on its own? Unlikely.

Even in 2012, when Congress was riding "high" with an abysmal 18% approval rating, did we see many members of Congress booted? Nope. In fact, 90% of the members of Congress who sought re-election in 2012 won.

The reality is that Congressional districts have been crafted (aka gerrymandered) by state legislatures in an often grotesque fashion, rendering a large number of congressional seats uncompetitive. Consequently, congressional reps have the freedom to be more unbearable and less compromising than ever before.

So what else can we do? Some call for term limits -- which I think is a great idea -- although you never know if the same politicians would just be voted in again. And to implement that, we would have to amend the U.S. Constitution. There are two procedures to do that: Congress starts the process by passing a resolution in support of the proposition with a two-thirds vote. Ain't gonna happen.

The other method is by way of a Constitutional Convention called by two-thirds of the state legislatures. That is a possibility if a large grassroots movement emerged, but it's challenging. Not one of the 27 amendments to our Constitution were enacted by this procedure.

The easiest way is to effect change is to pledge to collectively put aside partisan politics and vote only for candidates in the 2014 primaries and general election who run on a platform of going to Congress to work in a bipartisan manner for our common good. It's time we send home those people who would want the world to burn because it helps them get on TV and furthers their own political ambitions.

If we do this, then one day we might have a Congress that not only has an approval rating above most venereal diseases, but one we can actually be proud of.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

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