Congressional Cowboy Hat Caucus

By Jeannie DeAngelis

Step aside Nancy and Barney – lurid loudmouth Alan Grayson (D-FL) may be history, but here comes a flamboyant 68 year-old grandmother dressed in rodeo gear who, when it comes to the fine art of bonnet acquisition, puts the Duchess of Cornwall to shame. Congressperson-elect Frederica S. Wilson is headed toward Washington DC, ready to fill Kendrick Meek’s vacated Florida District 17 Congressional seat and bound to become the talk of the town.

In addition to elaborate hat-wearing, fashionista Frederica also prides herself on being one of the first elected officials in Florida to endorse Barack Obama, a man known to don a snappy hat or two himself. Wilson’s resume includes being one of Barry’s campaign surrogate speakers, hat and all, and one of Florida’s 27 electors pledged to the Obama presidency.

Frederica is a self-assured woman who, before tossing her hat into the political ring, was a teacher, principal and school board member.  Frederica worked her way up to the Florida State Senate and from there to the halls of Congress.  The chapeau-wearing Congressperson considers herself a “progressive politician,” who focuses on “minorities and low-income people…AIDS awareness,” and “reintegration of former prisoners.” 

Once in Washington, Frederica plans to continue that tradition, as well as lead the brigade in the battle against what ails our nation, specifically as it relates to 200 year-old proper-head-attire rules. If Congressperson Wilson has her way, her hats are destined to go down in history alongside the late Paul Simon’s bow ties, ex-con/ex-Congressman James Traficant’s bouffant hair-do and Nancy Pelosi’s basketball-sized pearls.

Once her fashionable pumps hit Washington DC, Rep. Wilson’s had planned to overturn what she calls the “sexist” no-hat rule. The ten-gallon hat wearing Floridian believes that just like women wearing head covering in church, “decorum dictates that men remove their hats when inside,”  but exempts women from that rule.

Rejecting any form of discrimination herself, Wilson sets the example by refusing to show favoritism toward any one hat.  In fact, her collection of 300 has a room of their own in her home and, to be fair, Frederica exercises a “well-honed system of rotating out seven or eight hats at a time.”

The Florida representative owns every type of hat imaginable:  Sequined cowboy hats, Sunday-go-to-meeting, Easter Parade bonnets, Lady Diana memorial remakes and Kentucky Derby headwear.  Who would have thought that in making her way from the school board to Congress Frederica’s millinery displays would be banned from the House floor?

A proponent of change, Frederica once said, “Change only happens when someone rolls up their sleeves and takes a stand. And it’s that determination and commitment that I’ll take with me to Washington.”  In that spirit, resplendent in a rhinestone helmet the late New York Congressperson Bella Abzug would envy, Frederica had earnestly planned to head into a heated battle.

However, after the media hat hubbub, Frederica agreed to put the issue on the back burner and submit to House rules by officially being sworn in naked from the neck up.  Regardless of the rules, Frederica is confident that one day she’ll convince Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh) to waive the ban on Stetsons and issue her a “hat pass.”

A resolved Frederica said, “I am going to go into Congress and whatever the rule is now, I will abide by that.” But crusader that she is, Frederica refuses to give up the hope to one day wear a hat onto the House floor. In true Democrat Party priorities-in-order/never-say-die tradition Wilson, referring to the hat kerfuffle, vows to “look at [her hat] options and …proceed from there.”

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