If senate reform is, as has been hinted, to be prominent in the government’s fall agenda, it is perhaps worth seriously considering what it is we want the senate to be. And on that note, here is an extensive look at the U.S. Senate, penned by the New Yorker’s George Packer after a few months of observation.
As the senators cast their votes, I noticed Robert Kaiser, the author of “So Damn Much Money,” in the press gallery. I later asked him if, with the passage of two big reform bills in three months, we were witnessing a possible renewal of the Senate. “If you can engage public opinion in a way politicians can understand, public opinion can still blow away money and interest groups,” he said. “But over the past few decades the reflex has grown in the Senate that, all things considered, it’s better to avoid than to take on big issues. This is the kind of thing that drives Michael Bennet nutty: here you’ve arrived in the United States Senate and you can’t do fuck-all about the destruction of the planet.”