Senator John Fetterman, a Democrat representing Pennsylvania, has drawn scrutiny for the recent alteration of the Senate’s traditional dress code, exclusively for his benefit. He has responded by ridiculing Republicans who have raised objections to his actions. Regrettably, his approach to gaining credibility may not be the most effective.
The majority of U.S. senators typically enter the Senate following careers in business, politics, or the military. John Fetterman, however, stands out in numerous aspects. Born into an upper-middle-class family in 1969, Fetterman discontinued his MBA program in 1993 and briefly pursued a career in the insurance sector.
In 1995, he resigned from his job and, with financial backing from his affluent father, moved between various nonprofit and volunteer positions until he secured the position of mayor in Braddock, Pennsylvania, in 2005. The mayoral role provided a modest monthly stipend of $150, and Fetterman continued to rely on his father for financial support.
Despite consistent complaints about his demeanor from Braddock residents, he retained the position until 2019, when he assumed the role of Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. Subsequently, in January 2021, he announced his intentions to pursue one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats.
In the Senate race, Fetterman faced off against Dr. Mehmet Oz, a polarizing candidate widely seen as eccentric. Despite experiencing a significant stroke on May 13, 2022, just days before securing the Democratic primary victory, he successfully defeated Oz in the November 2022 election.
By that time, the repercussions of his stroke were becoming increasingly apparent. Fetterman openly acknowledges his struggles with comprehending language, which can be a significant hindrance for someone whose responsibilities entail crafting, debating, and legislating laws. Subsequently, on February 16, he voluntarily admitted himself to Walter Reed hospital due to depression and did not return to the Senate until May 17.
Upon his return, his performance was noticeably subpar. Fetterman’s persistent disregard for the Senate’s dress code, opting to maintain his signature shorts and hoodie attire, resulted in him having to stand outside an open doorway to convey his votes by raising a thumb either up or down.
Ultimately, on September 18, the Senate Majority Leader formally abandoned the requirement for senators to wear suits and ties, accommodating Fetterman’s inclination for attire resembling children’s clothing. It’s worth noting that this dress code exemption applies solely to Fetterman, as staff and visitors are still expected to adhere to the established dress code. Fetterman contends that donning adult attire could potentially provoke another episode of depression for him.