"How did these men get here? In various ways. Some bought their seats, it is charged, and some hold them through their friendships with great corporations. Some got them by drinking in barrooms to cultivate the slum voters. Some hypocritically slid into them by praying in the churches at the same time. Others hold their places by the favor of certain district rings, and the mainspring which runs the successful machinery of still others is the sending out of seeds and government documents to their farming constituents.
A few members of Congress are really great men, but these I can count on my fingers. A few more are noble and upright, and now and then you will find one who casts his vote for his country's good and not just because it will benefit himself. Most of the others swell about and pose as great men. I suppose they feel great, except at election time when they drink, truckle, and boot-lick to maintain their greatness. Congressional greatness--faugh!"
From Carp's Washington, a collection of the newspaper columns of reporter Frank G. Carpenter, who was reporting in---1883!
Somehow I find this comforting. The men in Washington have always been crooks--even within spitting distance of the creation of Congress. If 19th century America could survive them, and 20th century America could survive them, surely we Americans of the 21st century will survive, as well. She says hopefully.