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Era of Benjamin Harrison, cartoon.
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This piece was originally published on Discourse Blog on Jan. 31, 2023.


It’s hard to say when it happened, exactly, but at a certain point in my life the word “caucus” lost its ability to paralyze me with hysterical sophomoric laughter. Sure, it still elicits a wry smirk out of me from time to time, but the poignant hilarity of the word—its sheer comedic value—has diminished considerably over the course of my depressing descent into ostensible adulthood in which I actually choose to listen to NPR programs that use the word “caucus,” rather than being forced to do so by my parents.

Imagine, then, my delight at discovering something almost as funny as the word caucus was to me in my precocious youth: a list of actual caucuses from last year’s 117th Congress.

To be clear, not all of these caucuses are funny—in fact, many of them are extremely serious and worthwhile. There are caucuses that focus on disease prevention, social justice, and a suite of other sincerely noble efforts. But peppered throughout this nearly fifty-page list of official, government approved interest groups are some of the absolute dumbest affinity clubs I’ve ever seen. And I went to a state school.

Here then are the 10 dumbest congressional caucuses, ranked.

10) The Friends of Liechtenstein Caucus

A lot of countries have a corresponding “Friends Of ___” congressional caucus, whose members ostensibly gather together to discuss ways the U.S. and that nation can, y’know, be friends. There’s a friends of Norway caucus, one for Belgium, Uruguay, Scotland ... you get the idea. But there’s also an official, bipartisan “Friends of Liechtenstein caucus.” There, Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen—Tennessee’s first Jewish member of congress—can join with Arizona White Nationalist Republican Paul Gosar—the first Representative to be censured for tweeting an anime snuff film of his colleague—can sit down, put their differences aside, and come together with a dozen other lawmakers over their common love of a small European monarchy roughly twice the size of Scranton, Penn.

9) The MACH 1 Caucus

This is literally the Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick caucus, “dedicated to policy issues important to the fighter pilot community.” How much do you want to bet that the members can’t get through a single meeting without sticking their arms out like airplane wings and making a “vroom” noise with their mouth?

8) The Reality Caucus

Whoa man, like, what is real, y’know? Are we in the Matrix??

Actually, this is a group of lawmakers who get together and talk about VR and Augmented reality, which I suppose might be an important issue someday in the future, but for the time being is really just a question of “Why the fuck would anyone pay hundreds of dollars to play subpar video games while looking like this?”

7) The Paper and Packaging Caucus

Sure, the paper and “wood products” industry is a major domestic moneymaker and employment bloc, but just the words “paper and packaging caucus” are like an atomic-grade sleeping pill. Seriously, just say “paper and packaging caucus” out loud three times in a row, and see if you don’t konk out from sheer boredom right there on the spot. Sorry to the lumberjacks who have to carry on the proud tradition of Paul Bunyan while being repped by Dunder Mifflin.

6, 5, 4) The Entrepreneurship Caucus ... I mean the Innovation Caucus, or, wait, no, I mean the Innovation AND Entrepreneurship caucus

I would pay good money to hear each member of these three separate caucuses explain how they’re different one another. Bonus points if they can do it without actually using the words “Entrepreneurship” and “Innovation.”

3) The Directed Energy Caucus

Lasers. They’re talking about honest-to-god, actual pew-pew-pew lasers. And somehow, they’re making them sound as uncool as humanly possible. As caucus co-chair Rep. Doug Lamborn admitted at an industry conference in 2015, “Since 1960, we have spent more than six billion dollars on directed energy, yet until very recently we have had little to show for it.” Great work, dude. Sounds like time and money extremely well spent.

2) The Congressional Caucus on CPAs and Accountants

As co-chair Rep. Brad Sherman explains:

The CPAs Caucus serves as an informal, bipartisan group of Members who are CPAs and is dedicated to working on solutions to address China’s compliance with American auditing standards, reforms to the PCAOB, the compliance burden of our tax laws, and recruitment into the accounting profession.

His website also offers this helpful word cloud, with a truly electrifying URL slug:

1) The Congressional Caucus for the Advancement of Torah Values

This caucus is co-chaired by Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon and Texan Henry Cuellar. Neither man is Jewish.

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