Welcome to Washington, new members of Congress. It is a city of museums, statues, self-importance and arcane ways.
After a post-campaign vacation, you will be ready to take on the world — or at least this city — and begin to make things right. You are coming here to cut through the crap, straighten out the mess, to return the peoples’ government to the people.
You are feeling good, even invincible. This sense of euphoria and possibility is normal. It is nothing to be worried about — and it will pass.
As most of the new class is Republican, you are going to stop the rot come what may. No more liberal shenanigans, no more creeping socialism, no more welfare state, no more European-style mollycoddling of the undeserving.
You are going to loosen the shackles on business and watch it rise like a jolly green giant who has shaken off his captors, including the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service.
Oops! Before we go any further, maybe you should pick a target. EPA and IRS are very unpopular — those two are enough for now.
It goes without saying that you are against Obamacare and that should be repealed, or go unfunded, or be replaced with something. Be careful: it may not be as unpopular with your constituents as it is at the country club.
But do not let things like that worry you. You have been elected to Congress. Hallelujah! Reality will not set in until you get to your first caucus, or you see the lousy office you have been assigned, or you learn that that committee appointment you cherished is not coming your way.
Again, worry not. You are about to make a lot of new friends; really nice people, people who will do anything you ask. They have advice about where to live, whom to hire, what schools to send the little ones to — if you have not already decided to leave them back home, which you may when you find out the cost of housing in Washington.
Anyway, the new friends will help you through the intricacies of being a member of Congress. They will advise you on which forms to fill in, how to get your expense reimbursements. Such helpful people. They will also give you advice on issues that are new to you, like net neutrality, the Law of the Sea, and the reason companies have to move overseas.
Amazingly, they also have tickets to wonderful sports events with local teams: the Redskins (football), the Capitals (hockey), the Nationals (baseball). They also have tickets to cultural events, from plays at the Kennedy Center to exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art. It helps so say you love the arts when you are railing against the National Endowment for the Arts, PBS and NPR.
These new friends are the lobbyists, and they have your number already. They know what you like to drink or eat, and whether you prefer to bike, hike or sail. Everything can be arranged. Trust them. They will also guide you on delicate legislative issues; no pressure, just guidance. And who are you to refuse a friend?
Dear Democrats, you are not forgotten but not well remembered either. Your party lost, and you know what that makes you. For two years you must walk the halls of Congress mumbling about income redistribution; how many successes President Obama actually chalked up, but failed to trumpet; and cursing, under your breath, the presence of money in politics — unless it is union money.
There will also be real pleasure for you in thinking up hateful things to say about the new Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and be quoted saying them in social media.
Whatever your party, as your first term wears on, you will get to feel at home on Capitol Hill. You will know how to play the lobbyists, one against the other, and how to discomfort the leadership of your own party. But mostly, you will come to love Big Government. Welcome to the Washington elite. — For the Hearst-New York Times Syndicate