Congress, Part I: The Hill
Despite being a literal D.C. native, I have always been mostly apolitical. I’ve voted exactly once in 16 years (I know). Until recently, I’d never been into the White House or the Capitol: they were always just there, I saw them frequently when I went downtown for brunch or museums or plays, and I could go inside whenever but never did.
Thanks to a Capitol Hill workshop I took for work, I attended a congressional hearing in Rayburn, sought out my congressman’s office in Cannon, and lost a pair of earbuds somewhere between Dirksen and the Metro. (Sorry if you don’t know what any of that means, but I’m a Beltway Insider now.)
I continue to think politics is mostly cheaters and narcissists lying about money, but I perhaps have slightly more nuanced views now that I’ve acquired an appreciation for how the legislative system is supposed to work.
Here is what I observed during my 4 days on the Hill:
- Everyone walks around with 2 phones.
- Some of the buildings have tiny rooms that people use to talk on their phone(s).
- No member of Congress listens to anyone else who is speaking. In the hearings, and in the House and Senate, one person speechified while everyone else swiped around on their iPads, gabbed to their neighbors, left the room, etc.
- Everyone looks really fancy–I was decidedly underdressed (laziness/apathy)–but the women will probably regret it later in life. One, about 10 years younger, was sitting near me in a hearing wearing a short blue dress and leopard print high heels. She looked very professional and stylish, except that I could see upon close inspection that her high-heeled feet were rough and gnarled. I’d rather dress like a Ruby Tuesday’s server and be able to walk properly on my decent-looking feet.
- Republicans and democrats really do sit on different sides. I knew this, and understand there’s a long tradition blah blah, but still it remains a little … childish? unnecessary?
- During a hearing, if you mistakenly sit in the area for legislative aides but no one says anything to you, do not breathe a sigh of relief: these hearings are taped, so your stupidity will be memorialized on the internet forever.
This newfound appreciation for law and politics could not have come at a more perfect (heh “more perfect” – political humor!) time. I recently learned that the Constitution specifies no qualifications for Supreme Court Justices. I’m confident that my love of passing judgment on others will translate well into a position on the Court. I hear there’s an opening.
Photo: Passes for the House and Senate galleries