Here's How to Live Your Life Like a Member of Congress


It's clear by now that the U.S. Congress has its own special way of doing things. Over the last few days we've seen how they'd handle a government shutdown, but most of life doesn't consist of political and economic crises. How would Congress handle the normal responsibilities of daily life? 

(Note: This list is not to be confused with the “Idiot’s Guide” series, as people reading those books have generally already realized that they have a problem.)

1. Commuting

Upon waking up in the morning, you should recognize that at some point you’ll need to arrive at work. However, a confluence of factors and interests will make it impossible to determine when that specific time should be. Ignore the extremists in your own party raving about the clock and the distance of your commute; any set of information and priorities not agreeable to you is immaterial. Read no fewer than four academic traffic reports before tentatively leaving. When walking out the door, remember: there’s no occasion too small for a brief ceremony. If you encounter difficulties such as traffic or inclement weather, immediately backtrack to the safety of your home and quietly resolve to attempt again when conditions are more favorable. When partisan domestic elements fret about your imminent firing, assemble a Paul Krugman quotation onto posterboard and present why that could never happen.

2. Office Environment

You will appear more competent at your job if you incessantly broadcast how little you enjoy being there. Attempt to take credit for every positive thing that happens around you, such as successful tank installations by the Culligan man and’s ease of use. To diffuse accountability, form a dozen or so subcommittees with like-minded employees to tackle fundamental decisions to which you were originally assigned. It is undemocratic to take instruction from one manager. Instead, seek to build consensus through a series of hearings with the aforementioned subcommittees, where managers from different companies are invited to advise your best course of action. In the event of allegations of workplace impropriety, bring your significant other to the office to stand no more than four feet away from your side, at all times, for two days. Never, ever get caught shitting.

3. Family Dinner

Eating meals together is the backbone of a happy household. Use this as a source of leverage as to what will be served. When a loved one prepares a meal that you dislike, even mildly, remind them that if you’re not going to enjoy your meal, you’d just as soon eat cereal alone in your room. Persist at this complaint loudly while sitting at the dinner table, even if it postpones dinner until well after 9:00 p.m. and sets everyone in a rancorous mood. If there are younger family members present, remember that their growing bodies require more nutrients than you and will suffer comparatively more if the meal is rendered impossible. By you.

4. On The Prowl

Remember the adage: Behind every romantic situation is a federally-funded staff of Georgetown interns and senior advisers. These employees will help you scout ideal candidates with which to fulfill the Statutes for Encouraging Coming and Kissing Sensually, aka the SECKS Act. Wait for a time when a majority of national editorial boards and op-ed columnists build support for discharging the duties of this law, and bring your staff to an area highly concentrated with fun-seeking members of the desired sex. (If you have previously used a family-values campaign to mask your raging homosexuality, you must unfortunately continue the ruse tonight.) Your staff will be your eyes and ears and mouth and, in extreme cases, your hands, in the effort to winnow the night’s options down to one individual. Two simultaneous candidates will generally be possible only if taxpayers have sprung for bottle service and the club has a big sparkler.

5. Forbidden Desires

By the time you escort the winning SECKS object back to your home district, they will have been impressed by your high social standing and unquestioned line of credit. (Make no mention of your embarrassing impasses and shutdowns in the past — it will only give you anxiety.) The pace of the proceedings will likely move too slowly for your taste, especially if the SECKS object prefers to filibuster before the Act. Interrupt by loudly proposing a cloture vote to move on; remind them that you have a slight majority in this particular house. Once you negotiate a favorable course of action, proceed extremely conservatively at first: be sure to appease the Catholic Missionaries lobby before the Canine Protection League. On either side of the theater of operations should be two outsourced staffs: a high-quality polling company to provide reliable feedback, and a trusted PR firm specializing in below-the-Beltway communications of fulfillment and pleasure. Flip-flopping on your positions is encouraged. When pressure builds up on all sides, jauntily quip to the press, “It’s a sign I’m doing something right.” Upon reaching the sunset clause, be sure not to waste the photo-op. Never, ever waste a photo-op.

6. Getting Married

Marriage, like all of life, is an opportunity to get exactly what you want at all times. The wedding is no different. In order to anchor the planning negotiations toward your side, be sure to introduce a series of wild proposals that you know will be shot down: for example, an amendment that every increment of $1,000 over $10,000 that the wedding costs, represents an additional year that your spouse must fit into their wedding clothes. Don’t be dissuaded when the opposition grows weary and depressed — this means you’re winning. Set a wedding date before even remotely sure of your plans, as this deadline will demand decisions on funding resolutions and invitation diplomacy. If the date of the wedding arrives and there remains disagreement on one resolution, no matter how small, appear at the wedding in full dress but sit in the first pew silently until the impasse is broken. When your family encourages you to reconsider, ignore them. You left these rubes far behind when you began your illustrious career in the U.S. Congress.