And Suppose You Were A Member of Congress; But I Repeat Myself

Thus goes a famous Mark Twain aphorism. It held true when he said it, and it holds true today. The perpetual head-scratching and WTF utterances by our Commander in Chief (who is not and has never been a member of Congress) capture most of the headlines (deservedly so, he is top-dog, after all), but it is important to remember that Trump is not an outlier when it comes to nonsensical utterances.

One might imagine that people who have achieved success in a profession highly reliant on public speaking and highly sensitive to verbal miscues would be pretty good at hiding their foolishness and idiocy if it were present, but history makes it pretty clear that such an expectation is divorced from reality.

I offer a baker’s dozen of quotes from various Congresspersons of recent vintage. There are countless more, and I didn’t try too hard to pick the most outrageous or egregious – I simply grabbed the first 13 noteworthy ones that Internet searches offered up:

1 – Guess what this liberal would be all about? This liberal would be about socializing … uh, umm… Would be about, basically, taking over, and the government running all of your companies. – Maxine Waters
2 – All those who wore sheets a long time ago have now lifted them off and started wearing uh, clothing, uh, with a name, say, I am part of the tea party. – Sheila Jackson Lee
3 – I had an Indian doctor in our office the other day, very dark skin and two non-dark-skinned people, and I asked…, ’Have you ever been to a tanning booth?’ And he goes, ‘No, no need.’ So therefore [the tanning bed tax] is a racist tax, and I thought I might need to go get to a sun-tanning booth twice so that I can come out and say … I got taxed because of the color of my skin. – Ted Yoho
4 – You ever do that to me again, I’ll throw you off this fucking balcony…. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy. – Michael Grimm
5 – My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize. – Hank Johnson
6 – Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. That is direct. But that is reality. What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back. It is not going to happen on our watch. – Debbie Wassermann Schultz
7 – Every month that we do not have an economic recovery package 500 million Americans lose their jobs. – Nancy Pelosi
8 – Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, ‘Thank God, I’m still alive.’ But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again. – Barbara Boxer
9 – The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation’s history. I mean in this century’s history. But we all lived in this century. I didn’t live in this century. – Dan Quayle
10 – You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent…. I’m not joking. – Joe Biden
11 – They don’t call me Tyrannosaurus Sex for nothing. – Ted Kennedy
12 – Seniors love getting junk mail. It’s sometimes their only way of communicating or feeling like they’re part of the real world. – Harry Reid
13 – The Second Amendment only protects the people who want all the guns they can have. The rest of us, we’ve got no Second Amendment. What are we supposed to do? – Louise Slaughter

So, yes, Twain was right. So what? This is politics, after all.

If Congress is full of idiots, then WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD WE WANT THEM TO HAVE ANY POWER OVER ANYTHING!? If these are the Best-and-Brightest out there, shouldn’t we keep them on a short leash, be skeptical of everything they try to do, and insist that governmental power be as limited as possible? Why would anyone who wasn’t driven by cynical rent-seeking motives vote for a politician who promised to do more rather than less? Why, when the evidence of buffoonery is so stark and so eternal, aren’t more people all-in on limited government?

The easy answer is that voters are no different from the people they elect, and thus, to quote Joseph de Maistre, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” However, to leave it at that is, essentially, to give up and accept that the inmates are going to run the asylum. So, I implore you, if you are not a skeptic of big government, become one. Even if you find a politician who is not an idiot, don’t presume that he or she will win the day. The power of idiocy is greater than the power of a non-idiotic outlier to overcome it. And, even if he or she does, remember – the power structures put in place by this big-government Solon will be available to the Buffoon-apparent. No matter your political leanings – no matter who you think is the Solon and who is the Buffoon, the eternal truth of Mark Twain’s observation remains.

The only way to keep a child or a fool from harming himself or others with sharp tools is to deny access to those tools. Thus it should be with government. The fewer sharp tools government has, the less damage the idiots can do.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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