As I was happily munching on my Honey Nut Cheerios this morning and perusing Twitter for the latest news, I overheard two of my roommates talking politics over breakfast. "Well, that means Congress would actually have to do something ..." And before I could set down my spoon, my other roommate had finished her sentence: "... and we all know that won't happen."
This cynicism toward our democracy has become far too prevalent. It's the norm to expect the minimum (or worse) from our governing body. Even among the supposedly young and energetic 20-somethings that I hang out with, I'm looked at patronizingly -- as if to say, "She doesn't understand" -- when I voice confidence in our government. Since when did optimism become naivety?
As January trudges on with dirty, melting snow and the occasional glimpse of the sun, we see the first actions of the 114th Congress.
No, I'm not immune to discouragement when I see the good that could be done and I watch opportunity dissolve in a pool of political timing and re-election reputation-building. I know that life in this town can be miserable when you get sucked into the black hole of what could have and should have happened. Yet I choose to climb out of that trap of negativity to change the cycle. I choose to trust Congress with my dream that common good can once again be placed at the center of decision-making.
This year, I wonder what it would mean for the new Congress to be a governing body that puts the strength of families first, a Congress that promotes hope instead of fear.
Policy-wise, that means I believe in a tough legislative agenda, like the legislative agenda of NETWORK, the Catholic lobbying organization I work for. Otherwise, it means I choose to say no to the cynicism that chokes progress and yes to the creativity and optimism that our country needs to move forward.