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Suit Coats Good Idea For Wisconsin State Assembly

January 9, 2013

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the idea of requiring the wearing of a suit coat on the floor of the state assembly is being discussed among the political leadership.  While Republican Speaker Vos supports the move, Minority Leader Peter Barca is not sold on the idea.

Let me say at the outset I think the dress code makes sense.

Over the past two years rancor and discord followed the actions of Governor Walker and his conservative legislative majorities.  Many around the state, including this blog, lamented the policy choices of the GOP while at the same time recognizing the serious divides that undermined the working relationships within the legislature.  Reasonable voices on both sides of the aisle last session were not able to rise above the fray to work on a whole series of issues.  Measures that would have benefitted the state, such as a mining bill to venture capital, were not concluded often due to a most dysfunctional legislature.

The last session of the legislature made history, but not the kind we want to see again.

There needs to be a long series of moves and steps in the direction of maturity and sanity to again heal the divides under the dome.  Controlling outbursts and maintaining civility on the floor of the assembly should be something we take for granted, but we know that is not always the case.

Looking professional with a suit jacket adds respect for the institution.  While I very much opposed the policy choice of ending collective bargaining, I also felt the theatrics of the opposition during floor sessions was not the best way to deal with the issue at hand.

To sport colored tops at a rally is perfectly fine, but there should be a more dignified manner when taking to the floor of the assembly.  As such, I think the attempt for decorum with the wearing of a jacket while on the floor is most reasonable, and fits into the hope of making for better working relationships within the body.  It will not solve all the problems, but it surely will not make matters worse.

All this might seem very old-fashioned and dated to many of my readers.  But as a man who has lived half-a-century I believe that clothes does at time make the man.

A very close friend of mine recalls the days when his parents dressed up to go out for a movie.  His mom would wear a dress, and his dad wore a suit jacket.  They did not live in New York, but were middle class folks in Stevens Point.

I grew up when everyone dressed for church, and no one attended a wedding in blue jeans.   One would never go to an auction when I was a kid and find a mother of small children dressed in pink sweats with the large letters “PINK” emblazoned across her backside.

I grant you that times change, and attitudes change.

But at the end of the day I think Wisconsin wants our elected officials to look professional and act accordingly.  With all that has happened over the past two years no one should laugh off any opportunity to turn the page, and make for more comity on the assembly floor.

With that stated lets slip on the suit coat.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Alinka permalink
    January 11, 2013 11:51 AM

    Fully agree with some great comments here, but Dek has a good point, too. After all, I’d rather look at a crook in a suit, then one in a pair of low hanging pants,fully revealing his buttocks.

    Think Goodfellas vs. movies about modern gangs…Even killers wear suits at court hearings, we can demand from Assemblymen the same courtesy.

    (also I am grateful that PINK sweats top the list of fashion offenses to Dek’s sensibilities; here in good ol Milwaukee one can see ladies in pajama bottoms and furry slippers shopping for groceries. Not necesserily in bad neighborhoods, either.)

  2. CommonCents permalink
    January 11, 2013 9:08 AM

    Well, we got the suit coats for the Assembly rule, but I doubt we will get any better government. What the Republicans (and some of their fellow travelers) will give us is: opening the state up to rape our environment for the sake of out-of-state mining interests and they will take more of our money to invest in private businesses, (with no accountability for paying loans back or actually creating jobs), while they proclaim that they believe in free enterprise and less government! And, who knows what they will do when it comes to voting rights, women’s rights, public education and many other issues.

  3. January 10, 2013 4:03 PM

    I find it hard to believe that suit coats are going to change the atmosphere in the Assembly. Suit-coat-wearing Republicans are the ones who took a vote before the scheduled time for the Assembly to even be in session … egregious! Suit-coat-wearing Republicans refused to answer questions or debate legislation again and again and again … a complete disrespectful disregard for their colleagues. Suit-coat-wearing Republicans have mocked and silenced the Democrats at (almost) every turn. Suit coats will not heal this state. I guarantee it.

  4. January 10, 2013 10:45 AM

    This blog has always been in favor of venture capital, and I find the fact WI lags so far behind on this issue troubling. A smart mining bill has also always been a worthy goal for this state.

  5. CommonCents permalink
    January 10, 2013 10:04 AM

    In addition to calling for an Assembly dress code, did I just read: “Measures that would have benefitted the state, such as a mining bill to venture capital, were not concluded often due to a most dysfunctional legislature.”!? Deke sounds like Tom Still, at the State Journal, writing in support of corporate welfare! I guess the Capital Times was right – Deke is a “conservative blogger”!

    While such things as sweat pants and baseball caps should not be allowed, I don’t believe that the Assembly needs a dress code that requires suit coats and/or ties in order to behave better. Yes, men once dressed in a suit and tie to go out to the movies or dinner, and all one has to do is go to Walmart to see society has gone too far in how people dress when they go out in public. But, dresses and suits and ties do not necessarily create a more civil society. The “good old days” when people dressed up to go to the movies were the same days when “negroes” stayed in the back of the bus and “homos” stayed in the closet.

    As for the coordinated tee shirts (worn over dress clothes) last session, sometimes, deperate times call for desperate measures!

  6. January 10, 2013 9:38 AM

    Very well stated. When I worked for Tommy T. he insisted that all men wear jackets and ties. Clothes do make the man. That’s why I have railed against pants on the ground.

  7. January 9, 2013 11:31 PM

    It will take more than clothing to lend decorum to the legislature – note the US congress dress requirements – that haven’t improved that body any. A pig in a suit is still a pig…..

  8. Solly permalink
    January 9, 2013 11:07 PM

    Guest post by Mitt Romney. Gee, I don’t know where the Cap Times got the idea CP is a conservative blog. This idea only has merit in that it would be worth it to see the equivalent of Bella Abzug or Gwendolyn Moore tell someone who wanted to enforce the dress code to “Eff off!” Actually, under the Fitz Bros, the legislature did have a dress code of sorts for the galleries last session, they arrested people who had the First Amendment printed on their t-shirts or taped to their shirts. A gun is okay, but not the First Amendment.

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