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Youve Been Elected To Congress! Can You Pass Even One Goddamn Bill?

Congratulations on becoming a member of the U.S. Congress! Now, you can truly enact meaningful change for your constituents and the nation. Are you ready to engage in the rich tradition of democracy?

All right! First things first: What is the initial issue you want to tackle?

Okay, a bridge over this calm river. Gotta start somewhere, right? Ready to make some legislation?

Unfortunately, you were elected with the support of small-business owners, and this is an issue they will definitely not approve of. Politically, this is not a good time to try this. Maybe in a few years?

Wow. It’s your first day of Congress and you’re going to take on the gun lobby?

Look, you should know that they’re going to bury you before you’ve even gotten started. At that point, you won’t be able to make headway on any of the reforms you have planned. Better hold off on this one until at least your second term (if you get elected again, of course).

A straw poll conducted in your state just five weeks ago shows that the public is sharply divided on this issue. Championing it now would put any chance for reelection in serious doubt. You don’t want to be a one-term loser, do you? Better pick another.

You are now the proud parent of H.R. 349! After you submitted it to the Speaker, it was sent to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Unfortunately, you are not on this committee because you do not have seniority.

At the committee hearing, a congressman from Colorado proposes exempting companies that give their employees complimentary Game Boy Colors from providing any documentation concerning the legality of their workers. The rest of the committee favors the idea.

Great! After a few more key changes made after you left the room, H.R. 349 is ready to be voted on.

Your hesitance over the addition is met with ire. You are told to do your job, and the committee will do its job. The clause is added.

At home later that night, you see that the representative from Colorado has gone on The Situation Room and called you a Greedy Bridge Baron. He demands that more concessions be made to large corporations so as not to disrupt the economy. The entire panel agrees with him.

Your statement makes you look stubborn and uncompromising. The morning news cycle calls it a fiasco, and the paper in your home district runs your picture with the headline “Look At This Piece Of Shit We Voted Into Office.”

Your feeble concession pleases both a large number of your colleagues and your corporate backers! But before your bill can be voted on, it’s time for a congressional recess!

Too late! It’s time for a congressional recess!

Congress is still not in session. Continue to wait.

Congress is still not in session. Continue to wait.

Congress is still in recess.

Also, your father passed away. Maybe say a few words?

You are at the lectern at your father’s funeral. What do you want to say?

Very well said. Condolences to you and your family.

Wow. That’s all? Do you want to add anything else?

Really? That was your father. Wow.

Congress is still in recess.

Congress is still in recess.

Congress is still in recess.

The wait is over! Congress is back!

All right, initial polling has shown that your bill does not have the votes to pass. You need help! Who do you want to ask?

You approach the Massachusetts representative, and he agrees to support your bill! He only asks in return that $100 million is added to fund research on how to get the city of Boston to float four inches above the ground and make it so “Lightning Crashes” by Live plays on an infinite loop from speakers so loud no Bostonian can ever escape it, even if they trap themselves in the thickest bank vault.

Do you want to accept his help?

You approach the Arizona representative, and he agrees to support your bill! All he asks in return is to add a rider providing significant tax incentives to Americans who get surgery to install a tiny little gun at the back of their throat, enabling them to shoot a bullet out of their mouth whenever they feel threatened.

Do you want to accept his help?

You approach the representative from California. She agrees to support your bill, but in return, she requests that a rider be added to lengthen the bridge by several thousand miles in order to stretch her district into the San Fernando Valley. “The perfect compromise,” she explains.

Do you want to accept her help?

By refusing the help of your congressional colleague who is far more tenured and respected than you, a congressional freshman, you have enraged them! During the debate on the bill, the representative stands up and says you’re another “pork barrel shitstain, politics-as-usual ass-toothed gargoyle that slobbers dutifully on the Quran as a witless baby might.” A majority of the chamber stands up and applauds.

Looks like you’ve lost the support of your fellow legislators! Time to try to get support from the private sector! With any luck, garnering their favor will help you win back the room.

Who would you like to speak to?

You show your idea to Habitat for Humanity and they love it! They pledge to send out some fliers supporting it and to speak with the two congresspeople who are sympathetic to their cause.

Unfortunately, ExxonMobil heard that you met with Habitat for Humanity and threatened to fund the opposition if you move forward with the nonprofit.

What do you want to do?

You contact this bridge think tank, and it turns out they are funded and supervised exclusively by ExxonMobil! They agree to help you out, but only if a clause is added to your bill requiring the bridge to be made out of frozen oil, constantly cooled to 15 degrees Fahrenheit by giant, oil-powered freon generators.

Do you want to accept the help of Bridges for a Stronger America/ExxonMobil?

You contact ExxonMobil! Over an opulent dinner, they agree to help you out, but only if a clause is added to your bill requiring the bridge to be made entirely out of frozen oil, constantly cooled to 15 degrees Fahrenheit by giant, oil-powered freon generators.

Do you want to accept the help of ExxonMobil?

All right! ExxonMobil uses its considerable influence to garner large support for your bill, and you just barely have a majority.

The New York Times editorial board writes an op-ed condemning you for mortgaging the future of the country for a pork-barrel oil bridge.

Discussion on the bill continues. A representative from Arkansas proposes a rider to the bill making October 14 “National Wheelchair Retailers Day.” The motion goes to a vote.

The motion passes!

A congressman from Texas proposes adding a rider that will require every American to travel to Corpus Christi, TX at their own expense, inhale deeply, and say, “Ahhh, now that’s good livin’” within the next calendar year.

How do you wish to vote?

The motion passes!

A congressman from Texas proposes adding a rider that will require every American to travel to Corpus Christi, TX at their own expense, inhale deeply, and say, “Ahhh, now that’s good livin’” within the next calendar year.

How do you wish to vote?

The motion passes!

A congressman from Texas proposes adding a rider that will require every American to travel to Corpus Christi, TX at their own expense, inhale deeply, and say, “Ahhh, now that’s good livin’” within the next calendar year.

How do you wish to vote?

The motion passes!

A congressman from Texas proposes adding a rider that will require every American to travel to Corpus Christi, TX at their own expense, inhale deeply, and say, “Ahhh, now that’s good livin’” within the next calendar year.

How do you wish to vote?

Before you can vote, your party whip comes by and tells you that it is imperative to support this measure. Refusing to will be seen as an act of war against the party, and the consequences will be severe.

How do you wish to vote?

Before you can vote, your party whip comes by and tells you that it is imperative to support this measure. Refusing to will be seen as an act of war against the party, and the consequences will be severe.

How do you wish to vote?

Before you can vote, your party whip comes by and tells you that it is imperative to support this measure. Refusing to will be seen as an act of war against the party, and the consequences will be severe.

How do you wish to vote?

Before you can vote, your party whip comes by and tells you that it is imperative to support this measure. Refusing to will be seen as an act of war against the party, and the consequences will be severe.

How do you wish to vote?

It passes!

A congresswoman from Washington proposes striking every bill measure except for the part recognizing wheelchair retailers.

How do you wish to vote?

It passes!

A congresswoman from Washington proposes striking every bill measure except for the part recognizing wheelchair retailers.

How do you wish to vote?

It passes!

A congresswoman from Washington proposes striking every bill measure except for the part recognizing wheelchair retailers.

How do you wish to vote?

It passes!

A congresswoman from Washington proposes striking every bill measure except for the part recognizing wheelchair retailers.

How do you wish to vote?

The motion passes, and the bridge is history.

All right! Time for a vote on the whole bill as is.

Democracy at work!

The motion passes, and the bridge is history.

All right! Time for a vote on the whole bill as is.

Democracy at work!

The motion passes, and the bridge is history.

All right! Time for a vote on the whole bill as is.

Democracy at work!

The motion passes, and the bridge is history.

All right! Time for a vote on the whole bill as is.

Democracy at work!

You take a stand and stick with Habitat for Humanity. They ask the two members they have a relationship with to vote for your bill, and both decline. ExxonMobil is able to garner support from over 120 congresspeople who it exerts influence over.

Your bill dies a horrible death. You look incompetent, and ExxonMobil just donated $600,000 to your primary opponent. Enjoy the next 18 months in office, because that’s all you got.

A little girl from your district writes you a letter about how she won’t be able to get to school without a bridge and will die in the gutter, an insane derelict. She also says she no longer has faith in democracy because of you.

Proudly, you decline the help of this multinational conglomerate. No one can buy me, you think to yourself.

Within hours, ExxonMobil is able to garner support from over 120 congresspeople who it exerts influence over.

Your bill dies a horrible death. You look incompetent, and ExxonMobil just donated $600,000 to your primary opponent. Enjoy the next 18 months in office, because that’s all you’re gonna get.

A little girl from your district writes you a letter about how seeing you fail shook her faith in the American political system, and consequently she’s joined up with ISIS in Syria. The letter is seized from your hands by D.C. police, you are accused of conspiring with the enemy, and you are thrown in prison, where you rot away.

No one visits you.

Well, you pissed off the party whip, who is really one of the people you should never piss off. Like a vice grip, former friends turn on you, squashing your relevance and political ambition into a fine muesli. Congress almost immediately votes the bill down, then passes a motion to cancel your birthday. The president signs it into law, and his approval immediately skyrockets.

A little girl from your district writes you a letter asking why you broke democracy, her favorite thing in the world.

You have no answer.

The bill passes! Congratulations!

The Senate loves the idea of recognizing the nobility of wheelchair commerce and hastily votes it through their chamber. The president signs it into law.

You have made policy! Well done! Jefferson and Madison would be proud.

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