Five top tips for the new Congress
Welcome, new Congress!
Congratulations on making it to this level. That took some real effort. While people like myself were playing Angry Birds, you were running around kissing babies, shaking hands, and making platforms, only occasionally getting flustered and shaking the babies instead. Now, thanks to all our hard work and effort, I am on level 23 of Angry Birds, and you are a member of the single institution in which Americans, by and large, have the lowest amount of confidence. But hey, mazel tov!
As you sit there listening to the Constitution (who knew Article III was so short?) and steeling yourself for the upcoming term, here are the five things you need to think about.
-Come up with new ways to criticize Congress. There are many things wrong with this institution. Of course, you know this -- you were the ones pointing them out! But since most of these criticisms were along the lines of "All current members of Congress are diabolical fiends who survive by devouring the hopes and dreams of working-class Americans," your approach might need some fine-tuning now that you're a member yourself. Try something more like, "All the members of Congress are diabolical fiends who devour the hopes and dreams of working-class Americans, except myself, and this guy, Steve, that I met during orientation who seemed pretty okay."
-Pork-barrel spending. Now that you're in Congress, you have something known as constituents. Constituents are like children: They are always asking for things from you, mainly money and to be told how special they are, and you have to pretend that you like them and are interested in their experiences, because, ultimately, they will decide whether or not you get to keep your house. Before, you could complain about the pork-barrel spending that was rampant throughout Congress. But now that you are actually there and your constituents want, say, roads and construction projects, you need to be able to come up with an explanation. Try, "There are two kinds of pork barrel spending. There is the bad kind, and there is the kind that benefits Kentucky, where the people are uniquely deserving."
-Bipartisanship. In the olden days, Congress was a massively bipartisan institution full of collegiality. Sure, people would occasionally engage in duels, and now and then a member would cane another member senseless on the Senate floor, but other than that, it resembled the part of the '60's that nobody wants to talk about. Nowadays, this has changed. Sure, you will see members of the other party occasionally and some columnists will urge you to reach across the aisle to them. But in spite of any appearances to the contrary, they are not actually human beings with thoughts, value systems, and a wish to serve their country that are similar to yours. If they were, they would agree with you. Remain firm in your refusal to have anything to do with them. You know what happens to people who reach across the aisle: They get hit by the food cart, and the flight attendants yell at them.
-Staying in touch with voters. Back in the day, Congress was essentially left to its own devices with the exception of visits from reporters attempting to generate stories about what was happening "on the floor." Now, Congress is still left to its own devices, but most of these devices are wi-fi capable. Use them as much as possible to tweet vaguely encouraging messages to your "followers." Try to avoid too much contact with Snooki, but, otherwise, go nuts! Just don't say anything that you will ever regret or that might be controversial or that might offend anyone anywhere. A good example of this kind of tweet is, "Hey! America is sure wonderful, although other countries are good, too, but not as good as America is. Texas is my favorite state. Looks like it might rain."
-General advice. Don't forget to mention often how much you hate the culture here and how you are sleeping in your office, and boy are your arms numb! Bring tissues for Speaker Boehner and offer to "spend some time together, just listening, so we can get to the bottom of this." Suggest you go see Waiting for Superman, because you hear that it is a real tear-jerker, in the sense that it is set in the school system. Frequently tell people how much you hate Washington. Secretly buy a house here.
| January 5, 2011; 12:05 PM ET
Categories: Big Deals, Congress, Petri | Tags: America, Congress, Constitution
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