Can Congress Be Trusted to Auto Correct?

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They say, you’re only as sick as your secrets… If that’s true, then Congress might aptly be called a “toxic cesspool”. It’s no wonder that many running for office, often run on the platform that they will “drain the swamp”. Why? Perhaps underneath the placid surface, the murky waters of Congress are home to a number of carnivorous creatures with deep, dark secrets.

For young women, coming to DC to build a career by taking a job on Capitol Hill, can be akin to the young woman who worked as a whale trainer. In the best case scenario, the highly intelligent killer whales were great performers, accomplished amazing feats, and put on an amazing show, for which everyone applauded. But in the worst case scenario, things got really ugly, and a young unsuspecting employee was cut down in her prime.  On one hand, you want to punish the killer whale for dragging the young woman through the water by her hair to a watery grave, on the other hand, you wonder why the young woman chose such a dangerous career in the first place.

“Dawn had just finished up a very good session with this animal… she was interacting with him, petting him on the nose… Dawn had very long hair in a ponytail. That ponytail had swung in front of him. He grabbed her by the hair and pulled her underwater and held her underwater.”

To some Congressmen, a young girl with flowing hair, is just as undeniable as it is to a killer whale. They simply can’t resist the animal-like instinct to want to drag her down into their lair, for a good time. Unfortunately, to bystanders the power disparity between a whale and a trainer, or a congressman and a staffer (or even U.S. President and an intern) are lost… sometimes quid pro quo sexual harassment is mistaken for “flirting”. Sometimes a killer whale flinging a small 27 year old woman, violently, underwater, is mistaken for “playing”. And sometimes, a twenty-something year old being asked to participate in a romantic relationship by a 60 or 70 year old employer, simply doesn’t raise an eyebrow… in Congress.

“We thought it was part of the act,” said tourist Wayne Gillespie, who was at the killer whale show with his wife and two children. “We thought maybe they were playing together until we realized he was thrashing around pretty hard. That’s how we knew something was wrong.”

When women are sexually harassed on Capitol Hill and they voice their concerns, their careers a snuffed out just as quickly and as tragically, as the young woman in the killer whale tank. They are isolated, silenced, terminated, and ruined.

“Dawn Brancheau was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Did Dawn come to work that morning thinking that her long, flowing locks would be the reason that she’d become a target and ensnared by a predator with a known, but silenced track record? Of course not. Do women who get dressed for work to earn a living, and be able to make a change in the world for the betterment of their community– do they know that their pretty smile, bouncy hair, or confidence makes them irresistible to powerful men, who are unwilling to accept the word “no?” Do they have any idea that saying no to these powerful men could cause them to be retaliated against, wrongfully terminated, blackballed and their career left somewhere not breathing, with no chance of resuscitation?

“Though it was the third time Tillikum has been involved in a person’s death, there are reportedly no plans to take the massive animal out of the show.”

The U.S. Congressmen whose track records are surely no secret to their congressional colleagues, have not been removed from their positions, although everyone knows. Instead their colleagues work to capitalize on the media attention by crafting oft-dead on arrival legislation, garnering multiple interviews and being heralded as some sort of “women’s right’s Champion”, all the while pushing the skeletons of the harassed staffers back into the closet. By doing so, the complicit congressmen take all the attention off of outing the Members who are known predators, so that they can continue to find new prey. After all, this is politics and those Members are still part of the show. Thus Congress, like Hollywood, or like other fraternal brotherhoods, will seek to protect itself at all cost and you get a statement released that sounds something like this:

“We need to evaluate how to do this the right way.” Tompkins said. “We need to evaluate our handling procedures and how we interact with him…. I guarantee we will make any change necessary.

“He’s a good animal,” he said.

They all are.

So do we really expect Congress to auto-correct, or will the Members continue to roam the halls of Longworth, Rayburn and Cannon, just as the killer whale continues to swim in its playpen of death?

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