This last June, my wife and I had the chance to get a private tour of the U.S. Capitol from her long-time friend, who is also a long-serving, dedicated, highly capable public servant in the Congressional Budget Office. Over the course of her career, she has testified many times in front of members of Congress and knows the institution well.
As we were walking past the numerous hearing rooms, I decided, though reluctantly, to ask her a loaded question, because I was afraid of the answer I would get in response. My simple, loaded question was this: “Is this place as dysfunctional as it looks on the outside?” Her response was not heartening. She said, “It’s broken.”
While I am fearful for the next few years to come, I am also oddly optimistic at the same time. And reading history has everything to do with that optimism. Just a few days ago I finished Jon Meacham’s new book, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels. Meacham’s book is a refreshing, concise account that our nation has often gone through long, painful periods where we were broken in one sense or another. But there is a great deal of comfort to be had from reading about past injustices, pain and suffering endured, because in the end, we have always, though often slowly and painfully, come to our collective senses and done the right thing. These are not pleasant times we live in, but with history as an accurate predictor, we will, eventually, be a better people than we are today.
I’m Andrew Nelson and that’s my perspective.