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Why I'm falling out of love with the Senate

Ross K. Baker

Those of us in the academic world are privileged to devote our lives to studying the things we love. Anthropologists love the bones they unearth in prehistoric settlements, scholars of English literature dote on Shakespeare, and medical researchers even come to admire the pathogens they examine under their microscopes.

In my case, I have had a 40-year love affair with the U.S. Senate. But the Senate has let me down, and I feel like a jilted lover, because it has chosen to reject evidence of wrongdoing on the part of a president whose abuse of power the Founders created the Senate to counteract.

My first date with the Senate was in 1976, and I was immediately smitten by its intimacy and quirkiness. You could get lost in the vastness of the House of Representatives, but in the Senate, individual personalities stood out. What also stood out was pride of ownership, the sense that all senators felt that they owned a 1% share in a valuable property and were eternally vigilant to protect the power it represented against claim-jumpers from the other two branches of the federal government.

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