Many of today’s right-wing governors and state legislators have a problem.

By constantly pushing an extremist ideological agenda of nonsense about nutty conspiracy theories — while imposing autocratic laws to ban everything from voting to library books — they’ve become widely ridiculed as some combo of kooky, clownish, and embarrassingly corrupt.

That’s why it’s significant that Missouri’s GOP lawmakers have not only recognized their image problem, but have actually made an effort to demonstrate that they are serious-minded public officials concerned about their professionalism.

Namely, the state house of representatives has adopted a dress code. Seriously.

Specifically, the “attire mandate” addresses the pressing state issue of female lawmakers who come to work dressed normally — but without jackets. Disapproving legislative leaders clucked that this fashion faux pas was undermining the public’s respect for them.

But now, says GOP Rep. Ann Kelley, sponsor of the new code, “It has been fixed.”

Henceforth, all women legislators in the “Show Me” state must wear blazers or cardigans in order to, as Kelley explained, “always maintain a formal and professional atmosphere” in the House.

Professional? Excuse me, but these far-right state legislatures totter between being goofy policy forums and carnival sideshows. The only proper attire for many of these so-called legislative “leaders” would be straitjackets.

Indeed, trying to rationalize the Missouri legislature’s expenditure of state time, money, and credibility on dictating women’s attire, Kelley’s GOP colleague Brenda Shields declared it was about protecting freedom! The clothing mandate, she explained, eliminates the possibility that the state will “be the clothing police.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking of moving to Missouri! It must be wonderful to live in a state where the government has already fixed all the big problems people really care about, letting the legislative body focus on properly clothing its women members.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. This op-ed was distributed by

Hightower’s full-res headshot is available here.

OtherWords commentaries are free to re-publish in print and online — all it takes is a simple attribution to To get a roundup of our work each Wednesday, sign up for our free weekly newsletter here.

(Note: Images credited to Getty or Shutterstock are not covered by our Creative Commons license. Please license these separately if you wish to use them.)