In 2008, I was the Captain of my high school Constitution Team’s Unit 3. Yes, it is about as nerdy as it sounds. As young students interested in politics, my team participated in the We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution Competition. Although we won second in state, which is still a tender subject, the program solidified my interest in public service and political engagement.
Since I was captain of the so-called “application” unit, we debated three issues: the independence and accountability of the judiciary, the Second Amendment, and federalism. Even though it has been about four years since our last competition, I still remember my intense passion for anything constitutional, particularly the three topics mentioned above (Second Amendment George Mason quotes, anyone?). However, I have recently felt that my former passion and excitement is lacking.
Yet, today, while walking around the Capitol building and learning about the history of our Nation’s Capitol, I felt invigorated. Ok, maybe the four-hour tour guide training was not what one might call enthralling, but as we walked around and learned about the place that has heard cases such as Marbury v. Madison, I really felt in the middle of it all. There is no other way to describe the sense of exhilaration that rushed back as I stood, for the first time in my life, in our beautiful Rotunda.
The people who have walked through our Capitol have changed the course of American history, whether it was for better or worse, there is no denying the enchantment of walking on that same marble floor. From the beautiful Rotunda to the Crypt, Emancipation Hall to the old Supreme Court, our Capitol embodies so many significant aspects of American history and culture. It is often easy, particularly as an intern, to forget the bigger picture of our work on the Hill. I remember when I first learned of James Madison’s brilliance in setting out the Virginia Plan or memorizing every amendment and its historical significance. It was in those moments that I realized how important our ever changing, yet never changing, system of government is. I think my high school self would be quite pleased to know that, a few years later, I am working in the Senate and learning how our system works firsthand.