The plodding work of Congress, 1774 and today

I’m continuing to read, very slowly, through David McCullough’s biography of John Adams. Some great little tidbits in here, like this one about the plodding work of the First Continental Congress in 1774:

This assembly is like no other that ever existed. Every man in it is a great man—an orator, a critic, a statesman, and therefore every man upon every question must show his oratory, his criticism, and his political abilities.

The consequence of this is that business is drawn and spun out to immeasurable length. I believe if it was moved and seconded that we should come to a resolution that three and two make five, we should be entertained with logic and rhetoric, law, history, politics, and mathematics concerning the subject for two whole days, and then we should pass the resolution unanimously in the affirmative. (Quoted on page 86.)

Could almost perfectly describe Congress’s dysfunction today—except the vote would be along party lines, face a filibuster in the Senate, and ultimately be decided by a 5–4 Supreme Court decision. And it would still be Obama’s fault.

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