Senator Jerry Moran was recently out and about for another of his listening tours. The listening tour is an event scripted and perfected long ago by Pat Roberts, a kind of theater to convince the local audience that their man or woman in Washington is carefully tending their interests, a faithful servant who has nothing at all to do with the wretched state of affairs in the nation’s capital.
Listening tours are designed to portray Washington not as it is – a congressman’s home away from home – but as some jagged foreign outpost.
Such an event always includes a monologue, well-heated and half-baked, about the terrible log jams, the craven special interests, the sordid political games, the silly codes and strictures of life in Washington. This and more is mostly the work of the Other Party, of course, the obstructionists who foil any hope of compromise, of common sense and purpose.
Our man or woman in Washington speaks with such authority that the locals dare not question his version of why things are so terribly wrong and getting worse.
If only we would imagine 434 other members of the U.S. House or 99 other members of the Senate in other districts and other states, each of them on a listening tour, each explaining the terrible log jams, the sordid games, the suffocating strictures of life and work in the Capitol, each blaming the Other Party. Or Other people.
Imagine all those fingers pointing this way and that, the locals nodding in sympathy. Then what?
They all return to Washington, that’s what. They return to the craven special interests, the sordid politics, the ego boosts, the perks and benefits and campaign donations that attracted them in the first place – and keep them there.
Elections put legislators in Washington. The listening tour helps to make it a round trip, again and again.
‒ JOHN MARSHALL