This letter was also published in The Water Tower.
To the Honorary 114th Congress of the United States of America:
I pen this letter not yet knowing exactly what you look like. You’ll probably at least share some features with your older brother Number 113: big body, tiny head, bicameral (though one side is bigger than the other), huffy, bratty. To be honest, your brothers have never been the most popular group of folks, ranking somewhere between Corn Nuts and canker sores in people’s favor. You’re a bunch of dicks.
Number 113, this current Congress, is especially bad. We talk a lot behind his back, trying to pin down exactly what about the guy irks us so much. It’s more than just baditude: he is extreme in the least creative or exciting way imaginable. He’s that kind of guy—we all know this guy—who just shoots down everyone’s ideas, calls them crazy, but then proposes no good alternative and sits on his lazy ass complaining. Real A-hole. Super sexist, too, and some of us think he’s outright racist. It’s awkward to be around.
Number 114, this might sound unfair, but you’re showing up to this party already irredeemable. There is close to nothing you can do to endear your fellow guests (i.e. the sensible American people). But listen, I’m someone who sees your precarious position and knows where your older brother went wrong, so I hope you’ll heed these two words of advice:
Give up on the big stuff. There’s one big problem with both your good ideas (comprehensive immigration reform, campaign finance reform, carbon emission trading, drug decriminalization) and your bad ideas (deport, impeach, subsidize, escalate): they’re ideas. Ideas get too big and unwieldy, too much to grasp, and someone ends up crying. Leave them alone; ideas are dangerous.
You need to make laws not based on ideas, but pimples. Find America’s irritating minutia, use two fingers (one from each side of the aisle), and pop that pus. This could be your path to glory, Number 114: pioneering pimple-popping politics. Where else is so little substance so satisfying? What better model for our legislative branch?
For example, our system of public education is completely broken, a political firestorm; these types of problems aren’t essential, they’re just counterproductive. In the time it would take to bring even a mild educative reform bill to the floor, you could pop hundreds of pimples: subsidize a free Snickers bar every time I fill up my tank, paint the entire nation’s fire hydrants magenta, label all printer paper with the name and nickname of each tree used, fund a NASA project for one really souped-up helicopter, decriminalize the resale of self-recorded VHS tapes, move the Shar Pei to the threatened species list, expand the NSA presence on Tinder, and so on. Don’t they always say it’s the little things that count?
These micro-victories will redeem you, Number 114. And if they don’t sound like victories now, you can hire a researcher (like me) to make them victories. Why do we need a bidet in every American bathroom by 2019? Because research proves that residual fecal particles—what proctologists call “dingleberries”—reduce national economic output by over six percent every year. I show you the graph; you show the country VICTORY.
Welcome to office, Congress, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.