January 23, 2018

Let Us Now Praise (Less Famous) States

Not enough praise or blame goes to individual states for their contribution to the national governance, specifically which senators it sends to D.C.

It's sort of surprising to me that the states that are regularly seen as powerful -- and have the largest populations to draw from - normally don't send the best senators (I'm thinking CA, NY, TX, IL, FL, the five biggest).

The states that have done pretty well in recent years, punched above their weight as it were, include Kentucky, Arkansas and Pennsylvania.  Kentucky has given us the majority leader (and adult) in McConnell, and another who at least talks a good game even if his tactics are sometimes head-scratching (Rand Paul, who voted against ending the Democrat shutdown).

New Jersey is an absolute wrecking-ball with Booker and Menendez; voters there have done the nation a continual disservice.  From Jon Corzine to Frank Lautenberg, one heaves a sigh of relief for a generic liberal like a Bill Bradley.

The small population states outside the lower 48 have had surprising influence in the past: Hawaii's Daniel Inouye and Alaska's Ted Stevens (both below-average senators).  Now both states have relatively new and untried senators, two of which look terrible and one uninspiring. Perhaps Alaska's Sen. Sullivan will shine.

Western states outside the left coast have done some good with folks like Ben Sasse.  California is perhaps a surprise for the sheer lack of gravitas - Feinstein has lost a step or three in recent years and Boxer and Harris are lightweights; you can see a big difference between CA and MA in terms of quality. Texas has done above average, certainly the best of the "big five". Oklahoma has done really well, with Tom Coburn a star (now retired) and with Cole on the House side. Okie is another example of a state deserving our gratitude.

VT predictably collects "most-stupid-but-earnest" award with Leahy and Sanders.

Iowa, with Grassley and Ernst, seem most down-to-earth and practical and perhaps winning the nation's "best people" duo.

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