Now that every election forecaster of note is in agreement that the midterms are likely to be something of a red crush, there’s something that incoming Republicans, especially the freshmen, desperately need to hear.
In fact, it’s a good idea for Kevin McCarthy to immediately begin printing flyers for the party newcomers that say something to the effect of, “ATTN: Perhaps it’s your first time in Washington, but this is not a field trip.” Below that simple declaration should be about three bullet points:
—You’re not here to make memes.
—You’re not here to out-obnoxious AOC.
—You’re not here to audition for Fox News.
And lastly, there should be easy-to-follow guidance like: “Here is our agenda and here is how we are trying to pass it on this schedule. Any attempt to stray from these instructions will be met with stripped committee assignments, constraints on government-paid travel, and other penalties.”
Don’t worry, newbies! It’s not meant to scare you. There is still plenty of fun to be had in the Capitol and in your new positions. But too many people just like you have showed up to Congress solely under the impression that now is their time to shine on social media, or that this is little more than a reality show they’ve been cast to star in.
(See: Madison Cawthorn, who has been voted out of office after one term.)
That’s not what this is. This isn’t the “I’m here to shake up Washington!” TV special. This is serious. It has never been more serious.
The country is in catastrophic shape. Your middle-income constituents have gotten poorer. Voters don’t feel safe. And that’s nothing to say of how emotionally molested we all feel by the Biden administration’s fixation on race and sex.
It’s true that without a sympathetic president in office, your capacity to enact legislation is limited. Biden still has another two years to go. God help us all.
But don’t turn those two years into a freak show. Yes, the national media will find every reason to hate you, no matter what. But don’t make it easy for them to make more people hate you, too.
There’s a readily identifiable difference between confronting and antagonizing. Confrontation is a productive battle for the sake of your district. The other is a gratuitous provocation for its own sake.
If you can’t distinguish the two, it’s going to be very difficult for the smart people at The Federalist, and elsewhere, to defend the purpose of your existence.
Such instruction shouldn’t be interpreted as a command to keep your head down and do as you’re told. To the contrary, party leadership often gets it wrong— very, very depressingly wrong. But act like you’ve been here before. Be a professional. Demonstrate that you take your responsibilities seriously. People are counting on you for policy victories, not viral tweets.
With that in mind, have fun! Just don’t embarrass the people who got you here.