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Capitol Hill Memo - New Congressional Caucuses Don't Let Facts Get in the Way

Eugene “Bud” Calhoun (R, WI) has until recently prided himself as a loyal representative and a dedicated “back bencher” for his delegation. But during the past year, he has earned new renown as the head of a new congressional caucus dedicated to eradicating what Calhoun calls “the perverse influence of facts on how we make decisions.” As a result, he is now in demand as a local speaker and regularly provides interviews and sound bites to his local Sinclair broadcast affiliate.

Calhoun’s organization, Standing Tall to Refute Inconvenient Facts and Evidence (STRIFE) has 17 congressional representatives as members, and is open to office staff as well. STRIFE’s mission is “to promote the making of policy not on facts and evidence, but on what we know and want in our hearts to be true.”

Recently, Calhoun presided over a meeting of the STRIFE caucus in which members passed a resolution calling on Congress as a whole to “stand true to the important goal of rooting out evidenced-based (sic) decision making in Washington.”

“For years, our elected officials and representatives have made decisions based on facts,” Calhoun argues. “And where did that get us? We have the biggest deficit in the history of the country, crime is as high as it’s ever been, and immigrants are taking millions and millions of jobs from hard working American citizens.”

“If you relied on facts,” stated Billy Delldale (R, Idaho), the caucus vice president, “you end up just believing what the experts tell you.”

STRIFE has a friendly rivalry with a newer caucus, the League Against the Tyranny of Evidence and Reason (LATER!). LATER! was started by two freshmen representatives from Texas, Millicent Farmer (“no relation to the other Millicent Farmer,” she insists, though it is unclear to whom she is referring) and Andrew “Bud” Mittefinger. Farmer insists that our current “elite policy by evidence regime” is out of control.

“Evidence and reason are killing the American dream,” she says. “Look at all the policies of the last administration. Affordable health care. DACA. Rescuing the car industry. Dodd-Frank. Environmental protection. If you look at the evidence, that will tell you these things improved the economy and overall health. But once you free your mind to ignore all that, then you can get really creative and get rid of all these policies.”

Mittefinger agrees. “Facts schmacts,” he declares. “Evidence shmevidence. Don’t believe everything you’re told, just because they happen to be true. That is why we supported President Trump from the start. He told us what was right, not what the facts were.”

Farmer and Mittefinger both stated that they are not opposed to all facts, just those they don’t like. “Some facts are meant to be true,” Farmer says. “Like the record crowds at the inauguration. Or Obama’s foreign, Muslim background.”

The two caucuses have a friendly rivalry. They regularly appear on their local Sinclair news stations, and a recent bout of one-upmanship occurred when Calhoun gave an early morning interview on Fox News, in which he stated, “We’re really starting to see evidence that our campaign against evidence is working.” Two hours later, on the same network, Farmer gave an interview notable for her comment that “I heard what ‘Bud’ said earlier on your show, and I really agree, except that the facts show that our ignorance of facts goes further and better than his does.”

One other point of contention between the caucuses is the extent of their willingness to broaden the membership ranks. Calhoun and Delldale insist that they are open to having a Democratic representative join STRIFE. “We just haven’t found the right person yet,” Calhoun says. “But I’m sure there is one out there who is eager to throw off the veneer of knowledge and don the cloak of ignorance.”

Farmer and Mittefinger counter that LATER! will not likely see a member of the opposing party any time soon. “Those Democrats are so beholden to their elite, east coast, liberal, Chardonnay drinking, gay marriage loving lifestyle that they have forgotten what it’s like to just go with your gut and throw away all pretense of factual information.”

Neither caucus has yet had a formal meeting with the White House. While both insist that this is their goal, Calhoun insists that “we can do just as much good spreading ignorance of facts by the grass roots.” On this point, Farmer agrees. “As our great president has rallied all Americans around the elimination of facts from decision making, we just go around the country as his loyal storm troopers spreading the message.”

As for the future, both caucuses are looking ahead to the 2018 congressional elections. The leaders of STRIFE and LATER! all come from safe districts with little competition, so they are focused more on spreading their fact-free message and recruiting like-minded candidates. Calhoun is particularly high on a potential candidate from Louisiana, Eldridge Spawn. “Great guy,” Calhoun states, beaming with delight. “Simple as a slice of toast, and has not read a book since before high school. He’ll fit right in with our caucus.”

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