In a few weeks, the District of Columbia will be (a presumably temporary) home to a flock of rarae aves -- Members of Congress who've actually read the Constitution of the United States and who've pledged to uphold its original intent.
How hard is it for a Congressman to be (and vote as) a Constitutional origionalist? Can it even be done?
The answers are -- in one sense it's easy, in one sense it's hard, and yes it can be done -- H. R. Gross showed us how to do it.
Harold Royce Gross represented Iowa's 3rd district from 1949 to 1975. A radio newscaster who worked at WHO in Des Moines with Ronald Reagan, he defeated a sitting Congressman in an insurgent primary and then won the general election in 1948. An isolationist Republican who had campaigned against bank foreclosures during the Depression, many thought he was a leftist. He went to Washington with one (unpaid) staff member -- his wife. Twenty-six years later he retired after winning most of his elections by wide margins.
While in Congress, he rarely voted for appropriations bills (he probably couldn't find any that were low enough). Days after JFK's assassination, he took to the floor of the House to object to paying for the natural gas for the eternal flame on the late President's grave. He was given to saying things like: "Well, even if we don't get to the moon first, we'll be there first with foreign aid." A sign in his office read, "There is always free cheese in a mousetrap." The one vote this veteran of the Pacho Villa Raid and WWI later regretted was his vote on the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution -- he voted "Present." He thought he should have voted "No."
So you can see how easy it is to be a Constitutionalist Congressman. "No" is shorter than "Yes" and if you always vote "No" you'll rarely be wrong. If you happen to encounter a completely constitutional piece of legislation, you can vote "Yes" after you recover from the surprise.
On the other hand, it can be hard for humans to resist getting along and going along with the group. H. R. Gross avoided parties and junkets (he stayed home in his cheap apartment with his wife reading government documents and watching wrestling on television.)
At least the new crop of Constitutionalist Congressmen won't have to go it alone. They'll have plenty of potential friends who share their views. They can look to their own group for social vindication and they have plenty of conservative media outlets they can chat with if they get lonely.