Let's say you run a widget factory. You've got two shipping foremen — Mr. Red and Mr. Blue. One handles East Coast orders; the other, West Coast orders. You pay them a lot — a lot. But they're worth it. They get the job done.
And let's say, after years of building your business, you arrive at a major moment: Massive orders are pouring in and you're planning your biggest shipments ever. Demand for widgets is through the roof. And your production is keeping pace; now you just have to get your product to consumers.
So you come in on Friday, expecting all the week's shipments to be en route to their destinations, only to find out — nothing's left the warehouse. All week. Not a single widget. The problem? Mr. Red and Mr. Blue can't agree on anything. And neither man will compromise. Neither will budge an inch. Standoff, gridlock.
You'd arrive at a solution in a nanosecond — you're both fired! I've got widgets to get out there, and you two can't agree?! Boom, you're out. Mr. Purple, you're running the show now, and I want these widgets out of here by COB.
That is where America is. Congress has two jobs — pass a budget, pay the bills. Get 'er done.
Pretty simple. For those two tasks, 535 men and women get paid $174,000 a year — more than 92 percent of all Americans. For that enormous salary, they work only Tuesday through Thursday, fly home most weekends (on your dime), have a staff of a dozen or more to get them coffee and pick up their dry cleaning, and an office budget of $1 million-plus.
They take December off. And half the summer. How little do they work? This year, by the time senators came back in mid-September from their five-week break, they'd been in session on just 113 days. You worked as much as they did by the first week of June.
How bad is it? Republicans hit the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking in 1992. America hates Republicans. But they also hate Democrats. Congress' job approval rating dropped to 11 percent amid the shutdown, with just 5 percent of Democrats holding a favorable view of their own party.
Gallup summed up where America is now: "18 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way the nation is being governed, down 14 percentage points from the 32% recorded last month before the partial government shutdown began. This is the lowest government satisfaction rating in Gallup's history of asking the question dating back to 1971."
That's 32 years. And that's back to Richard M. Nixon.
One more: "Amid the government shutdown, 60% of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. That is the highest Gallup has measured in the 10-year history of this question. A new low of 26% believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans."
So, time to throw the bums — all of them — out. How could we possibly be worse off?
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times and is now editor of the Drudge Report. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.