The beginning of all wisdom in considering public attitudes over time is that Congress has been distrusted and unpopular with the American people most of the time, with only brief interruptions of public approval and support. This is because distrust of authority if part of the nation’s character, dating back to its revolution against the British crown. It can even be said that the Framers of the Constitution planned it that way or at least recognized that the survival of our form of government depends on ambition checking ambition, both among the branches of government and among the people and their elected representatives.
Further detracting from popular support of government was the emergence of political parties, both as a further check on any single faction dominating the system but as a means for organizing disparate interests among the people both to make national policy and win elections. However, parties only added further to public distrust by injecting further layer between the people and their elected representatives and confirming suspicions that politicians were more interested in helping themselves and their special interest supporters than in helping their constituents.