Many people have negative opinions of politicians. Pols have, perhaps rightfully, earned reputations as being self-serving and egomaniacal and dishonest. I had a recent experience with Representative John Lewis of Georgia that my son and I will never forget and that offers evidence that at least one generous and kind politician is still left on the Hill.
I had a meeting in DC on September 24. Since it was my oldest son David's 11th birthday I thought I'd bring him along. He had been paying close attention to the presidential race and has discussed aspirations of becoming a United States senator one day so I thought he'd get a kick out of joining me and that it would be a special birthday experience for him.
My event was at the Cannon House Office Building adjacent to the Capitol. We took some great photos around the Capitol building prior to the meeting. We hoped to be able to get a tour of the Capitol after, but we had a late afternoon flight so we weren't sure at all that we'd be able to sync with the lines to get tickets for a tour. Just as we left the Canon I happened to look up and see Congressman John Lewis about 20 steps ahead at the curb getting ready to walk over to the Capitol. Sensing a unique opportunity, I grabbed my son and we walked up beside him. I introduced David to Lewis as one of his constituents and he stopped and shook his hand and engaged him in a warm chat there at the curb. That would have made for a wonderful exclamation point to the afternoon but Mr. Lewis had other plans. To make a long and wonderful story short, for the next hour or so Rep. Lewis took us on a tour of the Capitol, to his wonderful office with an amazing view of the mall and the Washington Monument, and through the innards of the historic building that the public rarely sees. He patiently and warmly told my son about his role in the civil rights movement, his association with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., etc. He explained what he did in Congress and described everything we saw as we walked. He talked about the March on Washington and said that he was the youngest one who spoke that day, and that now, he is the only one left. My son was ecstatic; as a complete political junkie, I was absolutely overwhelmed!
If that wasn't enough, Lewis then took David on the floor of the House of Representatives where other Congresspeople were debating a bill. I watched from the gallery above as only children under the age of 12 or 13 with a member of Congress can go on the House floor. It was incredible. David looked up at me and gave me a "Dad, can you believe this?" look that I'll never forget!
After, he escorted us to a reception in Statuary Hall hosted by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. There were a number of other Reps there and we even ran into Congressman Clyburn of South Carolina who we had met previously.
It was an absolutely AMAZING afternoon. It was something that neither of us will ever forget and that left an extraordinarily positive impression about Lewis for us both! What makes this even more incredible is that this occurred right in the middle of the deliberations and negotiations on the first bailout bill. Within all of that, Lewis took the time to make an 11 year old's birthday super special. He was extremely generous and I'm happy to share the story with you!