Like so many other American institutions that have “relaxed” — or fully jettisoned — basic standards for the lowest common denominator, the U.S. Senate will effectively adopt a new minimum dress code of hoodies and gym shorts to accommodate likely emotional abuse victim John Fetterman. (Staff, it should be noted, will still be required to dress like adults.)
Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the departure from the “informal dress code that was enforced,” noting that now “Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor.” He didn’t have to say which senator was the reason for the change — everyone knew it was for Fetterman, who has attracted attention as the corporate media’s second-favorite neurological patient in Washington.
A dress code is a symbol of respect for others. We dress appropriately for work or (hopefully) to leave the house, in a display of respect for the people around us. It would be ideal if all the current inhabitants of the Senate had any respect for the voters who elected them, or the country they ostensibly serve.
Dressing well is also an act of self-respect, and the Senate is woefully lacking in the respectability category. Democrat senators threaten Supreme Court justices and vote to allow abortions of full-term babies and saddle our children’s children with debt for their pet spending sprees.
Most Republicans aren’t doing much better. With Mitch McConnell propped up at the helm, the Republicans in charge enable Democrats’ passion projects at the expense of Americans’ constitutional rights. They aim more fire at the effective members of their own party than at the corruption rotting the White House and Department of Justice.
With a few exceptions, the Hill functions as a uniparty, trading favors as prolifically as stocks and fighting over how to best squander your hard-earned living. Whether McConnell or Schumer appears to be winning, somehow the loser still ends up being you.
Like the crooked clothiers in the children’s fable, our top national representatives are always making promises of weaving delightful merchandise for our benefit. They flash “stimulus” bribes in our faces and cook the books to make it look like they’re spending our money responsibly. To question whether they producing anything of value is to be ignored or met with condescension. Meanwhile, they will keep bragging about doing things that actively make your life worse.
Senate leadership has managed to play both roles in the story: not only are they selling you an invisible bill of goods and charging you double for it, they’re parading their own naked incompetence down the street, too. Having to put up with the sight of Fetterman’s exposed legs and sloppy hoodies on the Senate floor is a national embarrassment, but a far less serious one than the imaginary wins he and his colleagues are selling to taxpayers.
I’m as disappointed as anyone by the Senate’s latest effort to undermine its own legitimacy, but I’m not surprised. The vestiges of respectability often stick around for a while, after the institutions that were once respected have decayed, before they too crumble. If we’re going to be governed by incapacitated, ineffective geriatrics like McConnell and Dianne Feinstein, they might as well wear pajamas.
Or, as Sen. Susan Collins of Maine suggested, they could wear bikinis. At least their clothes would match their lack of seriousness about governing the country.