One of the presidential candidates has recently adopted as his campaign slogan, “Washington is broken.”

Though the phrase isn’t unique to him, his emphasizing it serves to focus added attention on the theme that government is off track and little related to the average person’s thinking, concerns, or needs.

There is more than a little validity to that contention.

• When polls show only 12 percent of the American public feels Congress is doing a good job and only 13 percent believe Congress has passed legislation that has improved life; when 56 percent think it is not likely Congress will seriously address important problems confronting the nation; and when 69 percent say members of Congress are self-serving and more interested in their careers and perpetuating themselves in office than in helping their constituents, yes, one could say Washington is broken.

• When the president of the United States, the leader of the free world, has an overall job disapproval rating of 63 percent; when only 30 percent say they have confidence in the president and his party to deal with major issues facing the country; when the policies and actions of the last seven years have trampled on rights and freedoms hard-won over decades; when government-by-cronyism favors big business and powerful special interests, one could well make a case that Washington is broken.

• When lobbyists and other influence peddlers spend millions of dollars to get the ear of administration officials and members of Congress, promoting measures that favor the interests of giant corporations over those of the citizenry at large; when, from day 1, members of Congress must spend major amounts of time hustling for money to get re-elected, it would indeed seem something in Washington is broken.

• When, over 30-plus years, Congresses and administrations have talked and postured incessantly, but have done nothing substantive to reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil or to foster alternative energy programs, or to enact measures to insure adequate health care for all Americans (while they themselves have access to the best health care available), or to take concrete steps to resolve the problems with Social Security (well, hey, they have a splendid retirement program) and Medicare that everyone knows loom just down the way, it’s not difficult to conclude something in Washington is broken.

• When, in seven years, this country has gone from billions of surplus dollars in the Treasury to all-time record debt, thanks to a war that may eventually cost $2 trillion and to other spending that mocks every principle of fiscal conservatism the administration and its party supposedly espouse, saddling our children and grandchildren with the legacy of their profligacy, yer darn tootin’ something in Washington is broken.

All the presidential wannabes have been falling over themselves to claim the mantle of “the candidate of change.”

All the polls show the American people are more than ready for change.

But unless something is done to change the system itself, the sad likelihood is that when another election rolls around four years from now, Washington will be even more broken.

e-mail: hbrandon@farmpress.com