The Washington Post

Attention politicians: You can be popular when you’re dead. (Or not a politician.)

The past two years have introduced a cottage industry to Washington, D.C.: polling that shows how very unlikable things -- root canals and Darth Vader, for example -- are more popular than politicians. You can also compare fictional characters' approval ratings to potential presidential candidates. If you want to do something truly novel, you could make up approval ratings for the founding fathers, and then compare them to made-up movie characters from the 19th century (which would probably have awful approval ratings because they'd be based on James Fenimore Cooper novels). Politicians are the worst!

It's hard when no one likes you, isn't it Congress. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Since Congress apparently needs all the help it can get, here is a guide to things Congress can do -- some of which it already excels at! -- to get approval ratings like their more-popular poll mates.

1. Don't be in politics

The one thing that all the people pollsters have pitted against Congress's approval ratings share? None of them are in politics. So if Congress wants to be more popular, they could start doing other things, like cooking hamburgers for their constituents or making action movies. If that's not an option, you should definitely be a person who was once in politics, instead of a person currently in politics. It does wonders for your approval ratings.

Hillary Clinton, for example. When she was just finishing up her tenure as Secretary of State, 67 percent of the public viewed her favorably, according to a CNN/ORC poll. Now that she is being considered as a political candidate again, her approval has dropped below 50 percent in some polls!

If being popular is Clinton's goal, she probably shouldn't start a presidential campaign.

2. Be dead

If you want to be a popular president, you are better off being dead. People love dead politicians.

Which really is taking point No. 1 to an extreme, no?

3. Don't do anything.

Many of the things Congress is pitted against in the polling department are inanimate objects or people renowned for hanging out with people who can't move -- like Brussels sprouts, traffic jams and Boba Fett -- and can't legislate or give talking points or anything. And people seem to love them (again, relative to Congress). So although Congress is already an expert at not getting much accomplished, maybe it should think about doing absolutely nothing if it wants people to like it more.

4. Bedazzle your speeches.

What do Jar Jar Binks, Yoda and Nickelback all share? Besides being more popular than Congress, they also are famous for contorting English into something special/terrible. There are some members of Congress who already have created a niche for themselves in this department.

Every member of Congress should emulate Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) if they want to be more popular.

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.



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