The reputations of Missouri’s elected representatives at the state capitol took a beating in last week’s online opinion poll. ... Overall, I think the poll reflects the same growing frustration in state government that is reflected in national polls about our U.S. Congress, which have been running even lower than our president’s own low-water mark.

The reputations of Missouri’s elected representatives at the state capitol took a beating in last week’s online opinion poll.

We asked our online readers, “Do Missourians get their money’s worth from state legislators who are only in session about half the year?”

Only 9 percent thought the representatives and senators in Jefferson City, Mo., earned their keep – a paltry 53 votes out of the 565 cast.

Seventy-two percent (408 votes) thought Missourians did not get their money’s worth from the state legislators.

What the poll didn’t ask: Is that because they are only in session half a year? Or is it because they are elected politicians?

So the results can be difficult to interpret.

Overall, I think the poll reflects the same growing frustration in state government that is reflected in national polls about our U.S. Congress, which have been running even lower than our president’s own low-water mark.

The third choice was also worded to be subject to interpretation, although I think it is negative in connotation: “We wouldn't even if they never showed up.”

That option was selected by 18 percent (104) of the respondents, or slightly less than twice the number of respondents who thought the state legislature was giving them a good bang for their buck.

What the choice didn’t ask was if they’d get their money’s worth if they were there every day. I suspect the answer would have been pretty close to the same.

Active voters – and those are the only opinions that really matter in politics – have traditionally been critical of the halls of government while enthusiastically supporting their own representative.

How else would you get 80 to 90 percent retention rates among elected officials?

Voter attitudes range from dismay, disillusionment and disenfranchisement to contempt, disgust and despair, perhaps because they are the only part of the political equation who lack someone to lobby for their interests.

They go about their lives and try to earn a living, and in doing so, let the vested interests lobby for control of the people’s government.

Will Rogers was famous for saying he was going to Washington, D.C., “to keep an eye on our hired help.”

We need more of that attitude among the ranks of both voters and political abstainers.

Perhaps the part-time help in Jefferson City would do well to remember Rogers.

Write me at editor@lakesunleader.com.