[guest post by JVW]
You don’t have to be as crotchety, quarrelsome, dyspeptic, and intolerant as I am to have noticed that these days Americans dress like slobs. Casual Friday in the workplace has morphed into come-as-you-are, with hoodies replacing suit jackets, polo shirts replacing blouses, blue jeans replacing grey flannel pants, leggings replacing skirts, and tennis shoes everywhere you look (don’t get me started on those who wear flip-flops in the office). I know, I know: O tempora! O mores! to you too old man, and I certainly deserve that. But it is really too much to ask that a professional dress, uh, professionally?
Apparently it is for the United States Senate. The most august worldwide body of gasbags (average age: 80.4) has surrendered to the zeitgeist and is doing away with its sartorial requirements for the Senate floor. And guess which United States Senator is the impetus for this change? OK, that was an easy one. Rich Lowry has some thoughts about it:
John Fetterman’s Senate legacy is now set — he’s the guy who made it possible to dress like a slob.
What the Missouri Compromise was to Henry Clay, what the Second Reply to Hayne was to Daniel Webster, what the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was to Lyndon Johnson, Carhartt sweatshirts and baggy shorts will be to John Fetterman.
The Pennsylvania senator is the poster boy — if self-indulgent sloppiness is your thing — for the Senate dropping a dress code that required senators to dress in business attire when appearing on the Senate floor.
Fetterman briefly complied with the rule by making the sacrifice of putting on a suit and tie after he was first elected. Then, he reverted to his standard uniform that makes it look like he just arrived after sitting on his couch, surrounded by empty pizza boxes, watching football games all weekend.
And you know the best part of this new rule? Like virtually everything else in Washington, it only applies to the elect (quite literally so) and certainly not to the lowly help. From the Axios article linked above:
The updated rule will go into effect this week, according to a Senate official. The change applies only to senators — staff members will still be required to follow the old dress code.
It’s not as if the John Fettermans of the Senate had been disenfranchised before the rule change. Axios points out that tradition allowed for slovenly-dressed (and to me, slovenly dressed is stepping out without your diamond stickpin in your lapel) to stand with one foot in the Senate Cloakroom and one on the Senate floor and cast a vote from there, or to even briefly step onto the floor in order to cast a thumbs-up/thumbs-down vote. But now of course we’ll likely be treated to the spectacle of Senator Fetterman — whom I will acknowledge for the record is facing some issues with both his physical and mental health — standing in the Senate well where once stood giants such as Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Robert Taft, and Carol Mosley Braun, speaking to the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body™ while dressed as a skater punk.
We’ve done this to ourselves. Gentlemen, put those neckties back on before you head to work. Ladies, no more sleeveless tops in the office. Let’s restore some dignity to our increasingly-dreary lives.
[Edit: Post-publication I changed the title of this post from “The Ongoing Lowering of Our Social Standards” (which you will still see in the URL) to “The Ongoing Obliteration of Our Social Standards” which I frankly feel is more accurate in this matter.]