The Corner

Politics & Policy

How Air Conditioning Ruined America

When Joe Biden was first elected to the U.S. Senate having just reached his 30th birthday, he met with James Eastland, a veteran segregationist Democrat from Mississippi, and asked him what the most significant change to the Senate had been in his time. Eastland first arrived in the Senate in 1941. “Air conditionin’,” said Eastland. Huh? Biden asked him to explain. “You know, Joe, before we had air condition’ all that recessed lighting all used to be great big pieces of glass like in showers. Come around May . . . that darn sun would beat down on that dome, hit that glass, act like a magnifying glass and heat up the Chamber, and we would all go home in May and June for the year. Then we put in air conditionin’, stayed year-round, and ruined America.” (The story is told in Jules Witcover’s book Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption, which cites the Congressional Record as its source.)

Eastland was onto something. Proposal: a bill to ban air conditioning in the Senate and the House. Only it should be framed as a way to reduce carbon emissions and to bring our ruling class down a notch. If there’s a reason Congress must be in session, make the lawmakers sweat a little. This bill will pass unanimously, right?

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