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Politicians love to preface their pronouncements with phrases like “The American people think ...” But the disconnect appears to be growing between what politicians say and what the average American believes.

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Adam Wade of downtown is a financial adviser

How closely did you follow the fiscal-cliff psychodrama? Really close. Part of my job is gathering information and being informed about all that.

What's your take on the outcome? It was a patch. The larger issues weren't resolved. There's a lot of uproar ahead.

Describe national politics today in a word. Screw job.

What, in your view, is to blame for that? Selfishness. Putting individual benefit before the larger good.

How hopeful are you that the new Congress will be more effective? I'm hopeful, but I'm not optimistic. It remains to be seen whether we make the decisions we need to make proactively, or make them abruptly.

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Elise Reuter of Peregrine is a student ambassador for Sony

How closely did you follow the fiscal-cliff brouhaha? Not very. Some sort of agreement was inevitable.

What's your take on the outcome? Things'll probably get worse before they get better. We're in for some rough going.

Describe our present political state in a single word. Gridlock.

Who's to blame? Extremists. There's not enough moderate middle.

Will the new Congress be more effective? I sure hope they learned something from last year. I'm not real hopeful, though.

If you were president, what'd be your first step to turn things around? Get advice from every source possible.

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Donna Nunez of the west side is a receptionist and voice teacher

Did you follow the fiscal-cliff brouhaha? Only passively. It was largely a panic created by the media. I didn't feel personally endangered.

Describe the outcome. I'm disappointed. There was a lot of corporate bailout in the package.

Characterize the state of this country's politics in one word. Corporatized.

Who or what is to blame? Media. It no longer reflects legitimate citizen input. It has handed dialogue over to outside parties with corporate agendas.

Are we headed for economic catastrophe? Our economy is so engineered that a devastating collapse could probably be averted. It's certainly possible, though.

Will the new Congress be any more effective? I don't foresee anything changing.

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