Every Member of Congress Should Read “A Christmas Carol”

If they can’t embrace its lessons, they don’t deserve their jobs.

Steve Jones
Dec 24, 2020 · 4 min read
Scrooge encounters the Ghost of Christmas Present. (John Leech illustration, Public Domain)

This article is low-hanging fruit; a soft-target; easy pickings. Nevertheless, I persist, and I’m writing it anyway.

My thesis is simple: every member of Congress must read A Christmas Carol before they are seated in either the House or Senate. Then, they have to get booster shots of the Dickens classic once a year and prove that they have learned the lessons which the spirits have taught Ebenezer Scrooge. In addition, their records of bill sponsorship and voting must show that they “honor Christmas in [their] hearts, and try to keep it all the year.”

Don’t get all bent out of shape. I know that there are non-Christian members of Congress. But you get the general point, and so would they if they read this. Caring for the general welfare of mankind is not the province of a single religion.

Simply, the lessons of A Christmas Carol apply to all:

  • Don’t be miserly, it’s bad for the soul.

Most Christmases I read A Christmas Carol, and I always watch several film versions. My top favorites are the Muppet Christmas Carol and George C. Scott’s 1984 version. Oh, and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. Whether traditional, like the 1938 Reginald Owen film, or modernized like Bill Murray’s 1988 Scrooged, they’re all spreading the Dickens gospel — don’t be a tightwad, self-absorbed, arrogant, ass.

If I was to make a new version of A Christmas Carol, featuring politicians, I think I would cast Mitch McConnell as Scrooge with Ronald Reagan as Marley’s Ghost — with chains “trickling down” from his bound shoulders. And let’s have the entire GOP caucus be the ghosts that flit about outside Scrooge’s window, all bound by the chains of their circumstance.

You can populate the rest of the characters as you want; there are too many possibilities. (And let me know what you come up with.)

I do think that Donald Trump probably plays the boy named “Ignorance.” As Dickens said, “most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

As I write this, Trump has torpedoed the $900 billion Covid relief package that the House and Senate finally hammered out on December 22. Having never negotiated one element of the deal, Trump suddenly said he wanted direct payments of $2,000 to Americans instead of the $600 embedded in the deal. Trump is right, the $600 is a ridiculously small amount, but his Republican cronies aren’t going to go for $2,000 payments. (I suspect they are questioning whether the “treadmills” and “workhouses” are in “full vigor.”)

Meanwhile, most of Congress, thinking it had done its job, has gone home for Christmas. After failing to pass a unanimous consent request to raise the House version of the relief package to $2,000 to match Trump’s amazing request, Representatives will probably jet back to Washington on December 28 to take a traditional vote.

Most of us realize that Trump doesn’t care whether Americans get $2,000 or $600 or nothing. He just likes to blow things up, then see if he can badger someone into reassembling them in his favor.

It really is quite obvious that much of Congress has shut out the lessons of the spirits of Christmas, otherwise nine months would not have elapsed between Covid relief bills.

Millions of Americans would not have fallen into food insecurity this year, while food banks are struggling to meet needs. Hospitals wouldn’t be maxing out ICU capacities as Covid patients swamp them.

Some 2,400 Americans would not have died of Covid symptoms today alone, on Christmas Eve.

Trump administration officials wouldn’t have undercounted the need for Covid vaccinations in a first rollout — and they would have declined opportunities last summer to lock-in the purchase of millions of doses.

The lessons of A Christmas Carol are not that hard. Really, we all learned them as kids: if you have something, share; if someone needs help, help them.

Those ideas, unfortunately, often fall prey to adulthood. And political ambition, it would seem.

And so, I say again, every member of Congress should read A Christmas Carol every year to keep their humanity in “full vigor.”

And just in case Republicans don’t want to pay for a copy, it’s free in e-book form at Project Guttenburg.

Merry Christmas, all.

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Steve Jones

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We’ve got to do better than this, folks.

Politically Speaking

We all view the world through a unique lens. Politics is in literally everything from our churches to our social organizations to news events and crime to our governments. This is the place to share your view, regardless of your political leanings: all are welcome.

Steve Jones

Written by

We’ve got to do better than this, folks.

Politically Speaking

We all view the world through a unique lens. Politics is in literally everything from our churches to our social organizations to news events and crime to our governments. This is the place to share your view, regardless of your political leanings: all are welcome.

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