In this feature from the Feb. 27 Washington Post, John Runyan (R-NJ) and five other new members of Congress relate the personal roots of their political ambitions and what it means to them to serve in Congress. In a political climate that often reduces politicians to their policy positions, the feature puts a human face on today’s frequently bitter political debates.
An excerpt from Congressman Tim Griffin (R-AR):
I remember in third grade, my dad was asked to perform a wedding in Boston, Massachusetts, for a friend of ours. I got to tag along, and it was sort of an adventure. We got in our van and drove through the night on the way up there. And I will never forget [getting] to Washington in the early morning — I want to say, 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock. At that time, none of the barriers were there, and we literally drove up and parked in front of the steps of the Capitol. That was right about the time that Schoolhouse Rock was running “I’m Just a Bill.” So in my collective sort of jumble of memory, those two things sort of go together. There was a protester sleeping on the steps; I still have a Polaroid somewhere of that guy sleeping with his sign. We didn’t get to tour or anything, but I remember that particular event with specificity. We went on to Boston, to Lexington and Concord, Plymouth, the Salem Witch Museum. And then on the way back, to Philadelphia: the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall. That trip, for me, was like the opening of a gate.