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What’s it all about? This week, as we conclude our series on A Desert Journey, our focus is on hope rising, on awakening. Read one congressional staffer’s short perspective below today, look out for the announcement coming tomorrow, and our regular journal will continue Wednesday with A Story of Awakening.
-Caleb Paxton, LIBERATUS Founder
I willingly admit that most of my life I have been a starry-eyed optimist. I’ve wanted to work in Congress since I was 14, because I wanted to “make a difference.” I think what’s hardest for me is realizing that I don’t see that in myself anymore. That passionate fire in my belly is gone, and to be honest it happened pretty quickly when I took my job in Congress.
I’ve written previously about Congress feeling like a massive machine that got stuck on autopilot, and I think that is the root of most of my disillusionment. The majority of our work days are not focused on governing well and finding solutions to big problems. Instead, they are centered on playing the game in a way that keeps Members in office and keeps parties and interest groups happy.
When saying this, my thoughts go to November when the Paris attacks happened. Immediately there was a huge Conservative backlash regarding allowing refugees into America. People were scared, and instead of our elected officials speaking peace into a situation while working to seek solutions, too many of them used it as a rhetorical opportunity to slam the President and create unrealistic legislation that will never pass but will make a great talking point in the meantime.
I’ve seen these frustrations manifest themselves when I try to respond to constituents, whether in a meeting or over the phone. The fact is I no longer believe in what I’m telling them. I don’t believe that we are going to fix big problems, unite America, or even pass all of the Appropriations Bills. I guess it kind of feels like I’m living a double life. Part of that life is the reality within my office of knowing how life actually operates on Capitol Hill and choosing to play the game. The other half is the face we put on for the rest of the nation, acting like we are deeply convicted people working for the betterment of America.
I think the hope I’m clinging to right now is that many people on Capitol Hill probably did start out like me, deeply convicted and hoping to better the world. However, only a serious awakening is going to change the disillusioned robots our broken system has created.
I say all of this while writing for an organization that is willing to shout from the rooftops that Congress is broken and is deeply in need of restoration. That in itself offers hope that this awakening maybe isn’t too far away. I think it will begin when people see that the status quo does not have to define how we operate, but ultimately, it will happen when people are willing to stand up and put a stop to the machine. Politics defined by truth and beauty still sounds like a far-fetched reality, but inch by inch, word by word, we’re moving, and we won’t stop.
LIBERATUS is a weekly journal creatively pursuing Truth and Beauty by empowering writers in American politics to tell the story of healing through freedom. You can join the pursuit by applying to write, subscribing to the journal, or funding our vision.
Today’s writer, a current Legislative Correspondent in the U.S. House of Representatives, continues the Issue 009 theme of A Desert Journey.
Cover Photo Credit: Heather Gibbons