Alaskan of the week

2 Feb 2021

The Capitol.

The Capitol.

The stage was set for an interesting senate session. The Democrats had signalled their intention to speak into the night about the state of the impending vote on Trump-care; the contentious topic of mid-2017 (ah, the good old days). To recap, the Republican’s mission to repeal and replace Obama-care involved scheduling a vote on their bill in the coming days, despite there being no bill currently available. Only a select few Republicans knew the contents of the bill with the intention being to release it 10 hours before the senate session to vote on it, leading to the amusing line from McConnell: “I think we’ll have ample opportunity to read and amend the bill.”

In retrospect, naive I was to think that anything interesting was going to happen. Upon taking a seat in the gallery, my introduction into the inner workings of US democracy was to listen to Alaskan senator, Dan Sullivan, use his floor time for his regular instalment of “Alaskan of the Week”. Naive I was to think that floor time had to be on topic; truly, truly naive.

Regrettably, I stayed for a further 3 hours, watching a 95% empty floor work it’s way through its list of speakers. The monotony broken only by the occasional glimpses of Al Franken, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren walking through the chamber.

Having had enough, I slowly unwound the multiple layers of security to leave the building and take the above photo. While security was tight, it was tight for the purposes of controlling law-abiding guests. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was security theatre, it didn’t compare to, say, entering the Bundestag. It’s quite reasonable in my mind to conclude that a mob with conviction could overwhelm whatever defences there were and make their way inside. I wouldn’t have expected to be able to get this far, though.