If the polls are correct, people are more angry with their government now than they have been at any point in the last 50 years.

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported last week that 21 percent of respondents to its March poll report that they are angry at the government and 56 percent say they are frustrated.

The pollsters say that it is the highest level of “anger and disgust” in 50 years — a period that includes Vietnam, Watergate, the Iran hostage, crisis and the Clinton impeachment, not to mention recessions.

This is mostly considered to be good news for Republicans, who have the most to gain from voters who are motivated to change the players in Washington, but no one seems to be able to hold onto the angry voter for very long.

The Republicans were the targets of what the pollsters say was a milder level of frustration in the last two national elections, costing them the House, Senate and the presidency.

This is the environment in which Congress is planning to take on Wall Street reform, with procedural votes in the Senate scheduled as early as this week.

This is an issue, highly complex and hotly contested, that has the potential to wind up the anger level even further. If, like the health-care debate, this devolves into a publicity war over process, where the timing of votes and blocks on debate take the place of discussion about substance, neither party will benefit.

Fortunately, members of Congress have one ace in the hole — most people are pretty angry with the bankers, too.


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