March 19th, 2019
Today is C-SPAN’s 40th birthday. On March 19, 1979, Congress went and offed itself as a branch of government and switched full time to its current role world's greatest body at can kicking, rubber stamping, and—its favorite, because this is what we call “politics” now, too scared of the real stuff—producing new seasons of television entertainment. Blame cable news all you want for turning our representative and deliberative form of governance into a spectator sport, they’d have nothing to work with if cameras hadn’t been introduced to the chambers of Congress in the first place. Realizing that their real audience was now whomever was watching the TV, and not the people who voted them into office to represent them, legislators no longer needed see persuading and negotiating with their colleagues as their primary job. Instead, they can empower the presidency, courts, and federal agencies to do the real governing, and they can engage in empty-room oratory, talking-head commentary, and partisan theatrics. Yay us. We the serious people and our ever more perfect union.
Some solutions: kill C-SPAN, ban video cameras in the Capitol building, expand the House by a lot, and repeal the 17th Amendment.