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Congress: A Lawmaker’s Difficult Task Of Finding The Common Good

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I don’t remember when it first occurred to me after arriving in Washington many years ago that at its heart, being a member of Congress meant never being entirely satisfied. And that this state of affairs is baked into our form of government. But despite moments of immense fulfillment, it remained a central tension throughout my time in office—as it has been for most legislators since the founding of the Republic.Our founders were very clear about what they expected from the leaders chosen to represent the American people."Government is instituted for the common good...and not for profit, honor or private interest of any one man, family or class of men," John Adams wrote. James Madison was just as direct, writing in The Federalist that the goal of a constitution like ours should be to put in office people “who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue the common good of the society.”Politicians run for office for many reasons—ambition, ego, anger at the status quo, a broad but undefined desire to serve… And for some, that ideal—pursuing the common good—is front and center. This holds true for many voters, too.