Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

On the surface I maintain a fairly cynical take on congress. Whether it’s the republicans or the democrats in office, it always seems like it’s just way to difficult to get anything done. That’s what I say on the surface.

Underneath that outspoken cynical face, I’m just a small town California girl. I try and educate myself on the issues, but basically choose my local representatives based on one thing. How much Mr. Smith they got in them. That’s right, when you get right down to it I can’t help but see Washington D.C. in this very “Capraesque” way.

I’m by no means naive, and I am well aware at the numerous problems that both parties have helped cause in this difficult era. I know Washington is corrupt. Many people are power hungry and work to serve their own personal agendas. And I am by no means referring to one party over another; I’m simply speaking in general.

But every time I enter the voting booth, I always hope that the folks I’m sending to Washington are the ones that aren’t corrupt. The ones that really are there to make things better. That’s why I love to watch the House in session on C-Span. In the very desperate attempt to see someone who just might demonstrate a hint of that “Mr. Smith” I grew up picturing in my mind whenever I pictured my own congressman.

It’s also why, as soon as I was old enough to write, I began writing letters to my representatives about issues that mattered to me. And you know what, I have each and every response I received back from members of congress and my senators in my hope chest to this day.

So how can I still manage to hold on to this romantic idea of politics when things are just about as awful as anyone alive today can remember them being? Because, this morning I watched the House debate the bail out. All morning. And you know what I saw? Frustrated men and woman with clenched fists and furrowed brows. Men and women with desperate voices and passionate pleas.

I heard representatives go to the floor for their constituents. For the first time I truly saw some Good men and Good women, from all over the country and from both sides of the isle, trying to do the right thing.

Palin says we want some straight talk. Obama says we want to hear the voice of change. I say that’s crap. What we want is a congress begging and pleading one another to do what’s best for us. We want people who are going to go to the mat for US. Not speak at us, but for us. That’s what we vote them into office to do.

Was passing the bill the right thing to do? After hearing both sides argue it all morning, I have to say, I have no idea. In fact, I think the only one who might truly know would have to be a psychic.

The point is, I felt like my time spent in the voting booth was finally worth it. That maybe, just maybe, Mr. Smith is alive and well in Washington after all. Maybe there are a few people in Washington that remember, sometimes lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.

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Great post. I agree it was nice to see Congress coming together on a tough problem. As gov’t employees, we implement the policies of the executive and legislative branches. We need good policies from that side and we’ll work hard on our side to make sure the mission is fulfilled.

Adriel Hampton

Great thoughts! We’ve all got family, jobs and probably more on our plates than we’d like – what we need in Congress is the security of folks who are looking out for our best interests. I’m hopeful that Gov 2.0 over the next several years will allow participatory democracy to flourish, open up the communication between the people and their representatives, and send a more informed and humble wave of leaders to Congress. Onward and upward!