How Serious is the Senate?

US Capitol at night. A mosaic image of around ...
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When you think of the politicians who are in charge of rule making, you think of a room of stuffy old men who are very, very serious. Then you think of scotch drinking cronies who have adultorous relationships and hide money in off shore accounts and real estate. Where do we get these idea? Oh yeah, Hollywood movies.

As a youngster, you could never imagine who would want to be a Senator. It would be like sitting in hundreds of hours of lecture classes trying your hardest to stay awake. No wonder these people have to live a high life outside of the north wing of the Capitol building. So what makes someone want to be a politician?

Honestly, I never knew the difference between House and Senate, but I figured the only way to learn is to submerse myself into the lives of Senators and figure out what there job really is all about. Did you know that a US Senator, regardless of the number of years her/she has spent on the Senate, makes the same amount: $174,000? The only exception is for the party leaders who apparently have more responsibilities.

When I was an intern for a Senator, I observed the hours the man kept. According to my calculation, he worked 17 hours a day on average, and he worked 6 to 7 days a week regardless if he was in DC or his home state. Knowing that he most likely took a few weeks off, several times a year (maybe), I estimated he worked nearly 4,500 hours compared to 2,000 hours a 40/wk employee works with a few weeks off a year. This would mean a Senator makes around $38-$40 an hour.

Now, why would anyone want to be a Senator at a rate like that? Is it because of prestige? Or do some people really think they can make a difference? Some Senators and Congressmen are born into families that have ruled Washington DC for decades, other politicians have a calling for the work.

In a video I watched yesterday, several speakers talked about our life calling. How do we tap into our most central desires and reach for our dreams. But more than that, how do we identify the work we want to be known for that helped hundred and thousands of people live better lives?

While Senator’s select this position as a career, they have to work hard to be elected and work hard to stay elected. And inbetween all that work, they have to work hard at maintaining a quality of life for all Americans regardless of party, race, religion, sexual preference, or gender.

In the Elena Kagan hearing, she brough humor to the table that was recognized and appreicated. Like with any job, the more enthusiasm that is present, the more uplifting the work is for all those involved. Think back to a boss or co-worker you had that was truly jovial, no a sarcastic bastard, but a true humorist. Did that not make going to work more fun?

On Tuesday, September 21, 2010, I will go in front of the state Senate for the first time. I will let you know first hand the level of seriousness displayed. The more serious, the more intimidating it will be for me – but I should survive. And if I do, maybe someday, I too shall run for office.


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