From the Left



The House of Democracy falls silent

Jamie Stiehm on

Call me old-school. Democracy is not best on Zoom. Across the country, locked at home, we all know its distancing effect.

The best show in town is the hurly-burly, the side whispers, the nooks and crannies of the characters in Congress. It's not called political theater for nothing.

Then I witnessed the floor where Congress conducts the nation's business. My heart sank at the sight. Members wearing masks killed the buzz. They looked like stagecoach robbers. Keeping their distance and waiting patiently to speak run contrary to their nature.

Politics is a contact sport, at home and here. Handshakes, hugs and selfies give these extreme extroverts energy. They love to engage.

By contrast, these men and women looked strained. The vibe felt funereal.

To color the missing scene, scores of conversations babble like a brook, in a heaving mass, forming a magnificent human sea.


The "people's House" is the nearest, clearest reflection of the nation's diversity. The Speaker sits at the head of the House. Women, blacks, Latinos and Asians are seen and heard in numbers.

The House is like the city, the Senate like the country.

Outside the sun-dappled Capitol, the scene was more upbeat. Members came to and from the House floor, up and down the grand steps. Some sported new beards, the quarantine look.

"I like being back together, like a school reunion," Rep. Mike Doyle, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said. "There's not one that I don't like."


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Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate, Inc.


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