Blue vs. red neckties in Washington—and the best scenario: Kill off ties

imageIn The Solomon Scandals,  my Washington novel, a reporter says he became one so he wouldn’t have to strangle in a necktie.

So what’s the reality in D.C. today? Alas, even among many members of the Fourth Estate,  the tie is hardy dead—and, worse,  the real power people won’t even think of going tie-less on the job.

1 thing Republicans and Democrats agree on: Pale blue ties, says a Washington Post headline this morning.  Supposedly blue ties are less belligerent-looking than red ones.

That’s Washington for you—hardly any change for the better, just a minor variant of the same old same old. Why the devil can’t we abolish neckties entirely?

Here are my arguments, with apologies to fashion conservatives on Capitol Hill and in Georgetown and elsewhere:

1. Yes, if you dress in a hurry and your tie or your collar is too tight, you’ll reduce the flow of oxygen to your brain and make yourself less alert. Might this be one possible explanation for D.C.’s massive lethargy in the face of our national decline and our refusal so far to follow through on ideas such as a well-stocked national digital library system?

2. Notice the words “in a hurry”? Dressing with a tie takes more time, even with a clip-on kind for those trying to do a George Will act. Imagine all the extra homework that could go into legislation and policy statements in a tieless D.C.

3. In the ideal world at least, the damn things would make history-minded policymakers remember the guillotine (and experience the accompanying nightmares—thereby advancing the cause of peaceful change, as opposed to violent revolution). Now, that was the ultimate cutoff of oxygen flow.

4. With unencumbered necks, D.C. politicians and bureaucrats could better empathize with tieless and jobless blue-collar workers. Some overworked, underpaid white-collar types wear ties, of course; but how many of them do so willingly? Fashion tyranny at work. Talk about a good cause for the Tea Party.

5. Ties don’t promote civility, just the appearance of it. If you’re still stuck on appearance, then jackets by themselves will suffice, thank you. The argument might even be made that ties reduce civility, since oxygen-rich brains are more susceptible to it.

6. If men went tieless and women took more care to dress for the season, we could reduce air conditioning costs and energy expenditures.  A nice little symbolic move toward a balanced budget. In the winter, both sexes could wear comfortable, easily adjustable scarves to replace the ties.

Granted, certain segments of American fashion industry just may have suffered when JFK slighted hats, and, yes, when Clark Gable went without an undershirt in one scene in It Happened One Night. Still, I’m confident the American fashion industry is resourceful enough to come up with more comfortable ways of making statements.

If nothing else, I suspect that most ties are produced outside the United States, so the end of the tie might even be good for our trade deficit.

How about it, fashion people? Time to move on and kill off the tie? No law needed. Just get Obama and the GOP leaders to go tieless a few days, and in this city of conformists, ties will vanish overnight.

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David Rothman

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