A lot of people feel the same way about Congress as they do about family gatherings. They tend to like the members as individuals, but not when they get together as a group.
The truth is, no one really likes Congress. In fact, for as long as Congress has been around, people have been saying mean things about it.
When Edward Everett Hale, a Senate chaplain no less, was asked if he prayed for the Senate, he responded: "No, I look at the senators and pray for the people."
Will Rogers once observed: "The thing about my jokes is they don't hurt anybody. . . . But with Congress, every time they make a joke, it's a law. And every time they make a law, it's a joke."
There are probably few people who had less regard for Congress than Mark Twain, who went around saying things like:
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." (It should be noted there was no department of motor vehicles at the time.)
In fairness, every once in a while Twain did have something positive to say about legislators, like when he pointed out that:
"Fleas can be taught anything that a congressman can." (I believe this is still true.)
My guess is the thing we're going to miss the most now that Congress has returned is the civility.
After the bitter, yearlong presidential election, it was nice to be able to interact with people again without worrying you weren't being rude enough to someone who was actually going to vote for the other guy.
As is the ritual, when the new Congress convened there was the usual babbling on about bipartisanship and cooperation.
And, prior to that, the House Republican caucus had surprised everyone by abruptly reversing course and voting to have ethics.
So who knows?
Maybe this Congress will be different? Maybe they will put politics and getting reelected aside and work together to do what is in the country's best interest?
On the other hand, there is a strong two-word argument to be made that nothing is going to change:
Jim Shea is a columnist for the Hartford Courant.
Contact Jim Shea at firstname.lastname@example.org.