Although just for two days this time. I was at a gathering of National Urban League leaders (I chair our local affiliate) in DC where we both listen to folks in government tell us what’s up and go tell our Reps and Sens what we think is up.
As a lesser leader, elected only this last fall, I did not actually meet those we heard – such as Sec Duncan, Sens Reid, McConnell, Hatch and Dodd, as well as Reps Clyburn, Pence, and Davis – but I was in the same room. I took some IPhone pictures like a tourist, more to prove I was there holding the camera than to show my photographic skill.
No question there was some star gazing quality about the trip, about which my younger son expressed envy. But as important was spending time in the offices of our local Rep and Sens, actually face time with our Rep just outside the actual House Chamber. Not for the start gazing quality so much as seeing the up close face of government.
Wanna know more?
Well, for one thing they all look older than on TV, and more tired, and more human, and far less powerful. Surrounded by supplicants and petitioners and constituents and lobbyists I could sense the overwhelmingness of it all. Sitting with our Rep on the little subway that runs from the Rayburn Office building to the Capitol (there were votes coming up soon) I opined that things looked very frantic and that this must be because of the new administration and budget. To which he replied,
“It’s always like this.”
Flash! No wonder he looks old. He is. It’s a miracle anything gets done with all the people asking for this and that – including us.
That does not mean I am letting them off the hook for doing a better job, but maybe we need a better idea of what our responsibility is as well as theirs. If we expect them to better I think we had better ask them same of ourselves.
What depresses me this morning is that so few people know this. “The fault, dear Brutus…” You know the rest? Right?