This week I learned that Congressman John Dingle from Michigan (my birth state) just became the longest sitting member of congress, 57 years. He appeared on The Colbert Report this week. I wish I had a clip from that show, which shows Dingle has a great sense of humor. His smile sort of reminded me of Johnny Carson‘s or Dad’s for that matter.
John Dingle expressed the same sentiments, but with less twinkle in his eye, in a recent interview by George Stephanopoulos. Click on the link below to hear what Dingle is most proud of, and what he misses the most from the old days.
Dingle’s reminiscing and his comments about the lack of congeniality in Washington D.C. got me thinking about the history of our nation, collaboration, government spending and how all that has changed over the years.
Dingle’s proudest vote is his vote on Civil Rights Act, enacted in July, 1964. Dingle explains to both Stephanpoulos and Colbert that the rode to the Civil Rights Act was bitter. If we are to believe the movie, “Lincoln,” the congressional fight to free slaves was filled with arguments, bitterness, and even trickery.
It seems our government has always included lots of fighting. The writers of our Constitution argued and called each other names though a long hot, humid, and fly infested summer. Some say the unbearable conditions is what finally led to agreement.
It seems like arguments, lack of civility, and gamesmanship is woven into the fabric of our government. It’s been there from the start and probably will continue. What has changed is environmental controls. Our founding fathers had no benefits of air-conditioning, or window screens for that matter. Central air-conditioning was unheard of in 1964.
So here’s my suggestion: get rid of air-conditioning in government buildings. Allow the windows to open, but no screens. It may not improve temperaments, but I bet our elected officials will be a whole lot more likely to compromise and collaborate in a humid room buzzing with houseflies.
The money saved in air-conditioning won’t erase the deficit, but it will decrease the congressional carbon footprint. Saving money and improving the environment: two steps in the right direction.
Perhaps we should limit travel to horse or train, and no recess until the work gets done.
I wouldn’t take away all modern conveniences. I don’t want anyone to get sick. Keep the refrigerators, and smart phones. We can communicate our dis/approval with Twitter and Facebook.
What do you think?
(You can see the full episode of The Colbert Report using this link: http://www.colbertnation.com/full-episodes/mon-june-3-2013-john-dingell)
- House Democrat Mark Pocan of Madison appears on “The Colbert Report” (jsonline.com)
- Rep. Dingell Cites ‘Refusal to Compromise’ as One of the Biggest Changes He’s Seen in Congress in 57 Years (abcnews.go.com)
- Better Know A Guest: June 3 – 6, 2013 (colbertnewshub.com)