tv Congressional Families Public Service CSPAN February 28, 2018 2:01am-3:39am EST
conversation on congressional families and public service. in a recent report, amnesty international says that human rights are being undermined around the world. then a discussion on politics and race in the u.s. and later, health and human services secretary alex azar testifies about the trump administration's budget request for hhs. c-span's "washington journal," live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. and coming up wednesday morning, we'll talk about the legacy of the late rev rend billy graham and president trump's relationship with evangelicals with tony perkins, president of the family research council. and then we're live in santa fe, new mexico, for the next stop on the c-span bus 50 capitals tour. joining us is former new mexico governor bill richardson on key public policy issues facing his state and the country. also, new mexico speaker of
the house will be on to discuss how national issues are plague out in the state legislature. be sure to watch c-span's "washington journal" live at 7:00 eastern on wednesday monk. join the discussion. next, former house members and their wives talk about their experiences in public service and being in the public eye while balancing their family lives. the u.s. association of former members of congress and the national archives hosted the event. >> good evening. welcome to the william g. mcgowan theater here at the national archives. it's a pleasure to welcome you here this evening, whether you're here in person, joining us on our youtube station or a special welcome to our friends at c-span.
we present tonight's program "meter the better half: conversational partners, spouses and families" in partnership with the u.s. association of former members of congress and we thank them for their support. where are you? we've been doing this for six years now. great to have you with us. look forward to six more. before we get started, i'd like to tell you about two other programs coming up next month. actually this month. on tuesday, february 6th, at noon, katherine will be here to talk about her new book "jefferson's daughters: three sisters white and black, and the young america which looks into the lives of martha, maria, jefferson and harriet hemmings." on friday, february self-th at noon, chris meyers ashe will be here to tell us about the book "chocolate city: the history of race and democracy in the nation's capital." to learn more about these and all of our public programs,
consult our monthly calender of events at archives.gov. you can sign up at the table outside to receive it by e-mail. another way to get more involved with the national archives is to become a member of the national archives foundation. it supports the work of the agency, education and outreach activities. there are applications for membership in the lobby. a little known secret that i keep telling everyone, no one has ever been turned down for membership in the national archives foundation. the national archives and its center for legislative archives preserves the historical records of the u.s. house of representatives and the u.s. senate. even those voluminous records can't tell the full story of congress' operations. we can't overlook the importance of person-to-person relationships. not only between members but also within members' families. family members give tremendous support to those in public service.
back in the revolutionary era, john and abigail adams shared their thoughts and advice and scores of letters now preserved by the adams papers and available to all online. two projects supported by the national archives. we see their mutually lo love f family. for example, in february, 1776, john wrote, i sent from new york a pamphlet "common sense." abigail responded, i am charmed with the sentiments of "common sense." i want to know how these sentiments are received in congress. i dare say there would be no difficulty in procuring a vote and instructions from all the assemblies of new england for endcy. since the adams' time, the days and weeks between letters has been reduced to instantaneous
correspondence. let's now hear from our panelists about the essential role of family support. i welcome to the stage christie ann english. the past president of the republican congressional spouses. she is the spouse of phil english, who served in congress for 14 years, from 1994 to 2008, representing the third district of pennsylvania. chris spent the first seven years of phil's congressional term living and working in their district in their hometown of eerie, pennsylvania. retiring from her career in education after 30 years, she spent the next seven years traveling to and from the congressional district to washington with her husband. she graduated from lake erery college with a degree in english and french and taught high school french and english in the eerie school district for 15
years and was coordinated of the high school gifted program for 15 years. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome christie ann english. >> thank you, david. it was a great introduction. and for the many years of partnership involving the national archives and the former members of congress. first off, a quick word about the association. the former members of congress and the organization that i represent as president of the former members of congress auxiliary. the auxiliary consists of spouses of former members. under the fmc umbrella, we bring together a bipartisan group of over 600 congressmen and senators who worked together on a wide variety of projects. fmc tries to strengthen the work of the current congress by promoting a deeper understanding of our democracy and encouraging public service. if you'd like to find out more
about our projects and collaborations, please visit our website. tonight's panel is an example of fmc's work to engage the public in a conversation about issues that affect our nation and our democracy. in the partisan era where tweets and sound bites drive news cycles and politics is seen as an unkind profession for the power-hungry, it's important to step back and remember that our elected officials and their family members make selfless and grounded decisions to enter the public eye. and dedicate time for serving in public office. here to moderate our discussion tonight is dr. laura brown. dr. brown serves as a board adviser and director of the graduate school of political management at george washington university. she's a distinguished writer, dedicated scholar and acclaimed expert on politics. we also have two congressional
couples, congressman don mansulo and his wife freda. and wes and his wife judge deborah karnihan. and they will be joining us tonight. i know both of the couples, and can attest that they are wonderful people and that you're going to have a very interesting evening. welcome. [ applause ] >> so -- let me say thank you. thank you to our wonderful national archive. thank you to the former members of congress. thank you to our former members who are here with us and their spouses. and thank you to the audience for being here tonight. i'm very excited about this
conversation. i think we're going to get to share a little bit about something that i believe is really important, which is that politics is about people, and there are people who are doing extraordinary public service, committing time and family and energy to this life of politics and public service. so i think we have a lot to hear about tonight and a lot to learn from these families who are with us. so thank you so much again for being here. so let me share with you who is here on the stage with me because it's very exciting. we have former member of the house, russ carnihan, a democrat from missouri. he served in the house of representatives for eight years, from 2005 to 2013. next to him is his wife deborah carnihan, who is also an attorney and a retired judge and
founding partner of the carnihan and carnihan law firm and former assistant u.s. state attorney and prosecutor. election to her, we have freda mansulo. so free is a graduate of hope college. she was in michigan and earned her bachelor's in biology is a graduate of the swedish american hospital school of medical technology. so really interesting background. she worked as a medical technologist for several years. don mansulo, represent from illinois, a republican, served in congress, let's see, oh, i apologize. it's not on your bio. i did think it was here. how long did you serve? >> 20 years. >> 20 years.
so worked with john b. anderson, a former member of congress who also ran -- >> no, i worked for him. >> right. that's what i said. worked for him. and he ran for president. >> he did, in 1980. >> in 1980 as an independent. and you served in illinois -- from illinois as a republican for 20 years. so what we have is a wonderful collection of individual who's have given time, energy, heart to being in congress, serving constituents, being with their political parties. but what we're going to talk about tonight, and what i'm hopeful that everyone will sort of reflect on and share with our audience, is that running for office is often thought to be something of a family experience. it takes a lot of work to actually run a campaign.
it takes a lot of work to get elected. then it takes a lot of work to serve in office. and so what i'm interested in is how did this commitment begin? what were some of the first conversations you had with each other about, do i get in? what's the district that i run for? should i run for a lower office? how did you decide that congress was it and that you wanted to make part of your life be a part of time in washington? so, with that, i think maybe freda it would be nice if you would start. >> when we were dating, lynn martin was our representative in the part of illinois that we live in and don was honest enough to say to me, he was practicing law in a small town, oregon, illinois, but he said i've always dreamed of being a
member of congress, so i have to be honest and say that if lynn martin decides not to run, i would like to run for that seat. but i thought, oh, lynn's going to stay there forever. i thought this was a pretty safe bet. but then -- but then she was encouraged to run for senate, which left the seat as an open seat, and don said to me, if i don't run no ww, when somebody runs, they often will stay for -- >> for 20 years. >> for 20 years. so he felt like this was his opportunity. our children were 1, 3 and 5 at the time, so i wasn't particularly excited about getting involved with our kids being so young, but then i thought this is his childhood dream. how can you as a wife say you don't want your husband to fulfill his childhood dream?
so i went along with it. >> and the rest is history, right? >> yeah. but actually, don had never run for political office before. >> well, i -- >> oh, he had run for the school board. >> i had run for the school board in byron ogle county, illinois, at the time i was defending the most notorious murderer in that county. it was a court appointment. it was just bad timing. who would trust him, you know? >> yeah. so -- >> and deborah? do you want to -- >> oh, i think i knew that russ was going to run for political office from the moment he cut in on his best friend who was dancing with me. at a young democrats' event that we were both at in kansas city and said hello. you know, as my father-in-law
used to say, it's a genetic defect in this family. but, yeah, i was president of my college young democrats at columbia university, columbia college, and russ was statewide president of young democrats, and he was in law school at the time at the university of missouri. so we kind of connected through politics. but, you know, sometimes it still throws you a little bit because to say, yeah, we're interested in politics or you come from a political family, and i had already been involved in political campaigns, i had already done an internship here on capitol hill. it's still a decision that really takes a lot of soul searching before you actually say, yes, i'm going to commit to the time and the energy and then kind of uh-huh and if we win, then what, right? no one wants to lose, but it's a -- it's a very difficult decision to make because what if
you do win? so i think one of the last times you were state rep, i was up in illinois, in lincoln, illinois, at my girlfriend's bridal shower, and i get this call from russ. he said, i need to talk to you. i just heard dick gephardt's retiring after 30 years in office and we had just been redistricted into his district by one block. we didn't move to this area. you know, we didn't move to this street or our neighborhood for this. and i said, oh, my gosh, can you just give me 24 hours to get home? let me finish this. my best friend and mom are listening, like, what's he doing now? he goes, no, i really can't, you know we are i said, what's 24 hours? people are going to jump into this. this seat's been held for a long time by a very prestigious politician. he said, i need to start making calls tonight. so i said, okay, you know, let's
go for it. that's just kind of how you roll sometimes. >> yeah, think that's right. so, let me then ask sort of the opposite question. representative manzullo, how did you feel when you were running and you were on the campaign? in what ways did you see that freda was most helpful and was most supportive, aside from sort of being this amazing spouse who said i'm not letting you not have your childhood dream, right? >> well, i came home from the law office -- this is a town of 3,500. a county of 30,000. our form, we were raising beef cattle. we got married and she thought i was a safe bet. this guy's going nowhere. >> i don't believe that for a minute. >> and i said -- i bought she's
three books on how to run for congress. okay. and she said, what's the first book say? it says have 100 of your friends each give you $1,000. silence. she said, well, what's the second book? what's your vision and why do you want to run? and freda was, i mean, the first campaign, we didn't -- i had no idea what i was doing. i ran a bad campaign. but i got 47% of the vote. which was extraordinary. >> not bad. >> the man who beat me in the primary went on to lose to the first democrat to hold the seat in 100 years. and where freda really -- she really showed extraordinary support because i had to make up my mind whether or not to run in that second primary in 1992. i said, freda, just tell me not to run.
you know, i got it out of my system. she said i'm not going to stand between you and your boyhood dream. when i was 4, i dreamt i wanted to be a lawyer, when i was 10, i decided i wanted to be a member of congress. so freda did an extraordinary lift taking care of those kids and us traveling throughout that entire congressional district. >> were you driving around the district all the time with the kids? >> oh, yeah, we didn't have a chauffeur like every congressman has today. >> i always believe driving a district is the best way to see it. >> well, one time it was midnight and coming back from about an hour and a half away. to keep awake, we were trying to remember the names of the state capitals. >> only things people in politics do, right? >> yep. >> but it does become a family affair. because i know that when, you know, it's like when we first started, don wanted to do this but we printed off all this
literature at his law office and then we put it in this little wagon and went to a festival with our kids. but then he kind of clammed up when we got there. >> froze. i froze. >> he said, i just don't know that i can walk up to people and start introducing myself and tell them what i'm doing. but our son, who was -- >> 8. >> 5. no, this was the first time. he was five. he thought was kind of fun because he was a 5-year-old. he was fearless. so he just began saying, this is my dad. and he's running for congress. >> but, see? this is where it's -- >> yes. >> it is true. i mean, there are some really interesting stories about how fund-raising actually came about. a lot of it came historically from the spouses. from the wives who were willing to basically say, my husband is running for congress, would you be willing to support his campaign? so much of that sort of began in
these family traditions. so i'm curious, representative carnahan, what about you? how did you deploy your already campaign-savvy wife on the trail? >> well, i -- before i met debra, i grew up in a family that very political and had always been involved in my dad's campaigns. when i was 8 years old, he was running for the legislature. >> yeah. >> i remember going on this caravan for carnahan and they had a flatbed truck with loud speakers. it went from town to town on weekends. that was my first exposure to politics. i'd been a scheduler in dad's campaign. a driver. so i had had that introduction. i didn't necessarily think i was going to run for office myself. in fact, when the longtime state house seat came open in 2000, i
was trying to talk debra into running. i told her i would be her campaign manager. but she declined and eventually i ran. but that's really how -- we had practiced law together. >> right. >> we had worked in campaigns together. so we had a good understanding, and, you know, she was always my sounding board for ideas, for people, you know, because you're approached by so many people and consultants and competing pressures and decisions, and i always knew that i was going to get the straight information from debra. i might not like it sometimes, but -- >> that's true. >> but, you know, that was really so important to me throughout the work that i did. >> that's fantastic. so, moving on now. you win. now what? do you move to washington? do you keep a house at home?
do you stay at home? do you keep the children there? do you bring them to washington? these are all really -- >> can you afford washington? >> right. these are huge questions that i think every family confronts, because there is this moment where everyone says, like in the movie "the candidate," what do we do now? >> sometimes i look back at the picture of election night when don first won -- >> tell them where it was. >> no, this was when you won the general election. >> it was at the bar in the trailer park. >> no, that was the primary. >> oh, okay. >> but when we won the general election, pictures of that night, we -- >> oh -- >> we just look -- we look astounded. we look happy. >> we were shocked. >> we look overwhelmed. and then we -- when i sometimes look back at that picture, i think, you did not have a clue
what you were getting into after that night. and when we came for -- when we came for the orientation, we only knew one other couple, and it was because a friend of ours had moved from illinois to michigan between the primary election and the general election and they befriended peter hoekstra who was running at the same time. peter had children pretty much the same age as our children. so we met peter and diane in michigan about a month before orientation. in fact, the rnc called our friend that night when we were having pizza at his house to ask for money for the party, and he said, oh, you won't believe who is in my house tonight. i have two newly elected members of congress sitting right here. so we thought, oh, poor carl.
he did not know that being friends with us he was going to get called for the rest of his life from the republican party. >> we were homeschooling the kids, freda was, because it was easier. and a big shout out to archives and the library of congress. our kids had the extraordinary opportunity, doctor, to see the actual documents. i remember one time we were at the library of congress and one of the -- it wasn't -- one of the directors reached up and pulled down george washington's primmer and he handed it to the children. i could barely stand up.
but because of archives, we spent a lot of time in the stacks here and in the library of congress. our kids got the most extraordinary education i think that anybody in the world could ever get, just seeing and often times feeling the documents. in fact, the day i was sworn in, january 3rd of 1993, we came here, they opened early, let us in -- >> to see the emancipation proclamation. because we were from lincoln, so, of course, abraham lincoln -- >> illinois. we call it lincoln, you bet. >> the land of lincoln. >> yes, the land. so we came to see that. and later on when the newspaper interviewed don, they asked him what was the most important thing that happened during your swearing in day, and he said that it was going to see the
emancipation proclamation. that you stood there and you saw the signature and you thought how much he sacrificed just to do the right thing. and you just hoped that you would have the courage to do the right thing for your district. >> that's a great story. thank you for sharing that. >> well, it was a really tough decision. i was born and raised in action alexandria, virginia. i was fifth generation. so all my family was here. i got to missouri because i wanted to be a journalist. and that's another whole story. i ended up going to law school. but that's what took me out to columbia, missouri, but our children were in a place in school where they're like, mom, i do not want to move to washington. so i negotiated with them that one child would leave his school because -- and then start and -- my eldest had it the hardest.
he had to leave his junior year of high school, and that's really tough. and then we moved to alexandria after the first two years and they got to graduate from my high school, t.c. williams, so that was kind of cool. i kind of liked that, too, because so much of my children's world had been been in missouri, which was my new home, but they hadn't spent a lot of time out here. so i really saw that as a positive thing for us and to be around cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents and history. it was difficult because if you live in the district, very expensive private schools. you live in alexandria or fairfax county, very expensive homes. >> yes. >> and so you, you know, we were paying two mortgages. so it seemed like we were always broke because i'm paying these two mortgages, right? and my kids are like, why don't
we ever have any money? i'm like, we have two houses. so it was hard on me because i wanted to come to washington right away, you know? i wanted to be here. i was helping to set up the office. i was helping to determine the hiring. we were doing all of that together. i came out about once a month, i think, and then i was also still on the bench. so i would have to leave my bench. and sometimes when the boys were moved her, i still stayed on the bench for awhile. sometimes russ and i were crossing a national airport and he'd be like, hi, biabe, i'm like, bye, babe. occasionally we were here and we would take meetings together, you know, and that was great. so i eventually retired my judgeship and was here more often. but they're very difficult decisions and you are asking a lot of your children.
my youngest son, he'll probably just hate this, but andrew was going to the school that his grandparents went to, his great grandparents, his now middle school, g.w., he'd come home and cry at night. mom, i miss my friends. i feel like i'm at camp and never going home again. they don't get to go back and see their friends as often. russ is going almost every weekend and i'm going, but they're out here away from everything that they knew. so i think it was pretty rough on them for awhile. >> yeah. >> that's a good example of just how deeply personal it is in terms of where your kids are and, you know, what, you know, what your spouse's profession is and how do you juggle that. but then to make it even more complicated, you know, you have the political pressures of staff, we're all worried, you know, if debra moves the kids to washington -- >> right. >> are they going to think you've gone washington? >> you're not going to be in the
district anymore. so you're balancing all of this stuff, but at the end of the day you've got to do what works for your partner and your kids and your family. and you figure it out. there is no one model that works. so you just have to figure out what works. >> yeah, and i think, too, the reason that really propelled us besides my desire to be here with him more often and the decision-making and policymaking here was that i saw when he came home on thursdays he instantly started working. and you work friday and you work saturday and sunday. on monday, you turn around and you go back for votes. maybe you can make a ball game or this with the kids. people want to talk to you when you're out. your kids are standing there going, dad. people want to talk to the member. there really wasn't a whole lot of quality time. he was working. when they were here, he could maybe get home by 7:00-7:30 and
catch the end of austin's hockey game or part of andrew's baseball game or actually attend something at school. so i really found that was the best way to get more quality family life. >> absolutely. >> i agree with that. >> you have to make a decision. when we got married, freda was 25, i was 38, and i made a decision then that our family would come first. and so we moved the family out here. people thought we had four kids. i said, no, this one is my wife here. and i would go home every other weekend. and i can't remember of anybody who ever complained to my district director when she said the congressman is not coming home this weekend because this is his weekend with his kids. and because we home schooled the kids, they got to go on a later
clock, so when i would get back from the office, they were still up. then they would sleep in in the morning. i spent more time with my kids as a member of congress than most guys who work 9:00-5:00 and never travel. because that was a priority. if i could not govern my family, i was not capable of helping to govern a nation, and so they came first. >> i mean, there is a very interesting story and a very sort of famous one in political science circles about how former representative rahm emanuel had recruited former representative heath schuler to office. where heath schuler was nervous about jumping in and said, i don't think i'm ever going to see my children. supposedly over the course of about a week, every single minute that rahm was with his children, he called heath and said, i'm with my kids at the baseball game and he would hang up. i'm with my kids taking them to
school and then he'd hang up. supposedly he did this over the course of an entire week to recruit him and say, you're not going to lose touch. it is hard and there is a balancing act. >> you have to make a decision. i did not run for any leadership positions. i did not go in the rules committee. i did not take a lot of codels because kids are number one and they would grow up and other members could go and that would be fine, but the kids remembered when i was there and that's all i -- that's all we care about. >> this is where i do think there is an interesting issue about the constituents want you there, but then they say they want you to be compromising and doing legislation here. >> we didn't get -- see, it was -- >> it must be very hard. >> when you came in, newt really poisoned the well when he said if you move to washington, you have potomac fever and you ought to commute and everything. that's what started the strife that was going on.
in 1994, running against washington, the place is broken, and that's when the approval ratings started going down and down because everybody said, yeah, the city's broken, it stinks. you wonder, why would you want to run to work in a place that stinks? >> there is certainly more conversation that was able to be had when families were here all the time. i think that is one of the difficult parts now, you know, is because it is true, you know, children would go to school together and then everyone would see each other at the games and across the aisle you could have some conversations that were social, not just political. so i guess out of this, what would you tell a brand-new member of congress at the moment? a newly elected freshman. they come for you and they say, what do i do about all of these
things? >> well, what do we tell the member or the spouse? >> both, probably. >> and also, a lot of people don't know there is a -- it's great, it's called the big sister program, but now we're going to probably change that since we have spouses that are also men. >> so it should be sibling. >> yes. where you actually volunteer. like a volunteer to take in the spouse who is coming in and talk with them and partner up with them and let them know about the different events and clubs and this and that, pitfalls, things to look for, how to push back on staff. things like that. and i think i would tell them to figure out for themselves how involved that they want to be to the spouse. number one. because everybody is individual, you know we are don't feel bad if somebody else is doing more or whatever. number two, to the member and the spouse, i would say it's very important to figure out
ahead of time with staff what your parameters are. what the involvement is. like, russ would never have a scheduling meeting without me there. then i'd be like, i'm tired of doing -- please come, he won't make a decision. because, you know, a lot of times you have to bed leader to your staff to let them know, as the congressman just said, what's important to you. what are your parameters? because they'll work you 24/7. >> yes. >> right? they just well. i used to call russ the football. pass him from d.c., the district's office catches him. district office throws him back. they got a pass, a completion. you really have to work on that, and i think it's important. it really needs to come from the member and the spouse to the staff to communicate it. >> yeah. >> i often tell people that the number one person that you need to get to know on your husband's staff is the scheduler, and the
scheduler has to be somebody that you feel comfortable talking to because you have to be able to say these are the things that are happening in our family that are untouchable events. and it's disappointing that maybe your husband's going to miss out on some opportunity, but there will be other opportunities, and it's more important that he actually gets to the family events that are important to your family. >> yeah, so setting priorities, really helping -- >> yeah, everybody's going to be different, right? look at how many members of congress there are. >> that's right. >> we're as different in viewpoints or our backgrounds or how we have our families or how we're set up. very individualistic. there is no cookie cutter formula. >> and obviously geographies. this is where i always think somebody like, you know, then senator biden was always very lucky because he could hop on
amtrak and it was so close and so easy to make that commute to the district. put you rai but you raise a really interesting point, we have an unprecedented number of women who say they want to get into this game and run for office. so what does that mean for spouses in washington when we probably will start seeing some more men in this role of spouse? >> well, let me just say, as a former spouse, i almost said former woman space -- >> and current spouse. >> i'm still a current spouse, yes. let's get that straight. [ laughter ] >> i had someone walk up to me once and go, are you an ex-spouse? last time i checked, still current. but we love the male spouses, you know, they're great. paul pelosi, you know, he's like head spouse in the democrat
circles. and they come to events. it was just great. as more and more come, it's wonderful. it really is. and i'll also say that the women members of congress were wonderful. i mean, i became friends -- well, with so many people. men, too, congressional, but the female members were fantastic. give you a lot of recognition. a lot of respect. a lot of understanding. and you're not just not seen and kind of over to the side, you know? so that was really wonderful. and they usually make a big point of recognizing spouses and talking about the contribution of spouses at events. and that really is important. >> that's true. any thoughts about how you -- >> well, you -- when someone comes to me and says i'm
thinking about running for congress, the first question is, where is your wife on this? >> yeah. >> i guess no lady has asked me -- where is your husband -- where is your wife? if there is any hesitancy, you can't do this. remember, franklin pierce's wife didn't even know that he was elected president until he was actually elected, and she was very upset, it was horrible because the family was on their way from new hampshire to washington. the train overturned and the only casualty was their 10-year-old who was killed. their only child. i mean, it was just -- she did not know her husband was running for president. it's unbelievable. >> yeah, and how you're -- you know, your spouse can make or break you, you know? and a marriage is hard enough as it is.
>> right. >> without being in a political life and running around and living in two different places and back and forth. so it is quite challenging. it does help to be on the same page, especially if you care about keeping your family together. >> yeah. >> right? >> mmm-hmm. >> it's a very important role. and, you know, if mama's not happy, nobody's happy. at least in my family. >> and i would add to that. there are some special, some very special events and opportunities of things you can do and really making it a point to do those together and, you know, bringing your kids to those special events, i mean, those are just phenomenal and many, you know, just a great honor to be able to participate in those things. and for the spouses, whether it's a woman or a man, in addition to being -- getting to know the scheduler, identifying
those staff members that are involved in issues you care about. you know, if it's health care or education or, you know, whatever the issue is so that you can be involved in those issues and events that have to do with that. there are great opportunities, i think, for spouses to do that. and then for the member, you know, my advice would be to be sure that -- speaking of rahm emanuel, that our freshman orientation, he said this is the most bipartisan thing you'll ever do in congress because there were democrats and republicans together in the orientation. he said after this, your party is going to divide you and pit you against each other and you'll have to make a, you know, special effort to find those friendships and relationships. and to me, you know, whether you're in the minority or the majority in congress, having those relationships on the other side is really, really important. because there is always going to be something where you're going
to have to go to somebody on the other side to try to get something done or to build a coalition, and that's where you've got to take special initiative. >> rahm also said -- he's been a friend of ours for years and we were talking to him right after we got to washington around the orientation and rahm's like, you know, what i do with family, i tell them, i get one day. here is rahm doing leadership and moving on, he's a really busy guy. i get one day on the weekend. now, if you decide to schedule me for something on sunday, do not expect to see me on saturday. and, you know, vice versa. and you really have to guard that. because what happens is, and i tried that, it didn't work all that well. you know, because what happens is you'll hear, oh, it's just one event, but it's an hour getting ready for an event, it's driving to the event, it's at least an hour event. never believe an event is a half
an hour. it doesn't happen, right? >> no. >> and then it's coming back. decompressing, changing, so, really, the staff will want to say, oh, debra, i know you cleared saturday for him and you guys to do this, but it's just like one little event. i'm like, don't even try it with me. this is four hours here. you know, that's constant. no one's ever going to fix that. that's just the nature of the beast. >> no, think that's right. any other thoughts? >> well, i think one of the advantages when we home schooled, we actually were able to spend big chunks of time in illinois, and then big chunks of time in virginia, and what my kids liked about being in virginia was that the weekend that their dad would stay here, this wasn't his district so he was ours for the whole weekend.
and they also enjoyed when they got to high school age, we had home schooled them through eighth grade, but when the oldest one was heading towards high school, we weighed the pros and cons of where did we want him to do high school? did we want to do it back in byron, illinois, where our public school was or did we want to -- >> a good public school. >> or did we want to do it here in a private school, which was a little bit more expensive for us? but he opted to stay here because what he wanted was to have the distance between where his dad was being the representative and where he was going to school and making his friendships. because unless he shared with people in his class what it was that his dad did, he was just another kid in the classroom. >> right. >> he wasn't a special kid in the classroom. so i think you have to kind of
figure out where is the best place for your kids? >> yeah. that's a really great point. so we've talked a little bit about the challenges. i think what would be neat is to also share what were the high points? what to you about, you know, sort of being a part of the congressional family is so exciting and really makes you want to be engaged in politics and public service, you know, even now? >> well, i think -- the problem today with the lack of civility is that people do not appreciate and respect the house of representatives. that's where we're from. and realize that blood was shed in several wars just to have the opportunity to get up and debate.
i had the opportunity to work for john b. anderson from 1964 to '67 where we went to american university. can you imagine say job that lasted five of the six semesters? i was paid staff. he had three full-time and two part-time. that was it. and i saw how -- the time that he spent with his kids. i think john had, what, five kids? and the respect that he had for the house and then when i ran, that was imbued within me that, oh, my gosh, what an honor. every time it i came to raise my hand to take the oath to raise e the oath, i could never get through the words. i would start weeping. i wept ten times, and my kids would look at me, there goes dad again, he'll never get through
this oath again. it was the awesome sense that maybe 11,000 people in the history of this great republic have had the honor and the opportunity to represent literally hundreds of thousands of people. and to be in a position to impact their lives, to change the course of a nation, but you do it because you respect the institution. my first bill that passed was with henry waxman. i mean, henry and i had three things in common. we're both americans, we're both members of congress and we both belong to the short caucus. that was it. that was it. i mean, we were like flphilosop. we amended the clean air amendments. people said that was impossible. henry was the head of the subcommittee. sat down, henry talked to me. it took our staff six months to
begin to trust each other, to overcome the institutional barriers of political partisanship. and we worked together, came up with a change on that. and i thought, well, that's how all laws are made, you just sit down with somebody on the other side and you come up with a solution. sam farr from california, sam helped me with the most massive clean-up of unexploded ordinance in the country, he had fort ord, and i had 13,000. sam and i worked like this. he got me the people, the experts to clean this side up. we never thought about who was republican or who was democrat. ben cardin's expert on insurance sat down with me for two hours
to walk me through how pension systems worked. we reached out, said i need some help, where do i go? maybe i was naive because i never held office before. coming from a small town and practicing law in a very small county, we always believed that you trusted people. and sometimes you may get burned, but it's still worth trying to trust people because it always works in the end. >> good lessons. >> well, i would say that the highlight of spending time in congress and the experience, one, is always the people. and the reason we go into politics, at least for us and for our family, it's about the people. and you meet the most incredible people. and whether that's in your district, or whether that's who your cloegs are and the people you meet who are elected and in this wonderful institution, thing it is, the u.s. congress,
it's the people. and ross was on foreign affairs, and we did do a lot of traveling. i left my kids, i'll probably say, uh-huh, left alone again, and had somebody come stay with them. but we did quite a bit of traveling. and that was the people again. sure, the sights are nice. but many times you're just in meetings most of the time. but it's the people that you meet. and for me sitting down and having a discussion with gorbachev and 12 other people in the room, in his institute, or one of the presidents of bosnia, our friend president harris, and he invited me to sit at the table with the other two presidents while we were discussing the issues of bosnia. we had the largest bosnian in
the world besides bosnia, many immigrants in our district. it was those types of things. once again, it comes back to the people. it's the people that you meet, that makes the experience. >> that was really the highlight, being able to do things that made things better for people. i mean, i'll never forget having a room full of mothers with kids in my office the day that the health care bill passed and they all had preexisting conditions. there wasn't a dry eye in the room. i mean, just things that really impacted people's lives. and i think i always remember what steny hoyer said in orientation. he said if you don't walk a little taller and feel that inspiration every time you walk in that building, he says it's time to go. and it's true. but there's something, to me,
about the congress and having 435 people in the room was like having the whole country in one room, and learning from each other. you know, we're different professions and different ideas from around the country. and, you know, you can start off with a bill that you think is 100% great and had all the grade ideas in it, but going through the process, if we go through the process anymore, you know, it can actually be improved because somebody has a better idea. that's the way it's supposed to work. so if you can let that work, and when it doesn't oftentimes it's because it's rushed or because somebody's trying to, you know, monkey with that system. but there's a certain beauty and something really unique when you let that work. and, to me, that's always been the fascinating challenge and opportunity about working in congress. >> yeah, there's no doubt. here we sit in the national
archives, home to our sacred texts of america. and, i mean, i do -- and i am struck by what you're saying, that really the work of a representative is just that, right, to come and represent and talk and debate and, as you said, sort of reflect america in a smaller number. >> you know, that's -- the problem is that in many schools today, civics is not taught. the former members of congress are working on that, thank you for helping to sponsor this forum, sandra day o'connor has devoted her life to teaching civics. people don't realize the extent of sacrifice, the brilliance that went into these documents, the fact that lincoln practiced
signing his name, not a. lincoln, but abraham lincoln, because his hand was so nervous, he had to fix it before he signed the emancipation proclamation. and just to look at the documents and to see the history of this country makes you not only a better american, but makes you more civil towards each other, this is who we are, we're a mixture of everybody. but if we study these documents that defines who we are. we, the people. >> yes. >> that was dramatic, wasn't it? >> that was pretty good. >> i think we can start -- i mean, so obviously this -- you know, the sacrifice, the sort of excitement and enthusiasm, and also humility that comes with serving is something you each
have shared. what i want to do is spend the last 20 minutes or so just opening it up to the audience for some questions that you may have about what it means to be a congressional family, not just a member of congress. any thoughts or questions? >> this fella here has his hand. >> i apologize. so i guess you need to go to the microphones in the aisles so that it will be broadcast over youtube and wherever else we're live streaming. >> thank you. >> great. >> my question is, so one of the potential sacrifices and challenges you make when you run for office is exposing your family to the public eye, right, giving up a little bit of privacy, especially in your district, as you alluded to, you become kind of this local celebrity, journalists trying to ask you questions, people in school, that sort of affects how
your children are able to sort of go through their day in school, for example, and how they're treated. can you talk a little bit more how you sort of juggle that, keeping your family private, while being a congressional family? how do you balance that challenge? >> i had a heart incident when we were serving. and the people in our district knew that my heart stopped, that my husband did cpr. i ended up in the hospital here and got a stent put in. and we got -- it was -- this was a family tragedy on its own, but it was a family tragedy that was being lived so much out in the public eye. and we got a lot of -- most of the people sent me e-mails of support, everybody was praying for me. but i remember we got one e-mail from somebody that said i'm sure that your wife must have got the
cadillac of care, you know, and they -- and so i said to my husband, you know, you need to actually write that person back very nicely and just say we called 911. it's like you can call 911 too. we're not a celebrity. we're just a family that's in a house here in america, and the services that are available to all the citizens of the united states were available to us. but i said i think that people tend to think that some how things are a little bit smoother for you. and sometimes they're smoother, but every family has its ups and downs, and there are things that they go through. so that was -- that's a little bit hard sometimes to do those things with so many people wondering what's going on. >> you know, we had -- we hauls
h -- always had a listed phone number, 234-love, and very seldom would a constituent call me at home. people just -- they respected our privacy. and, you know, living on a farm, you don't -- no one knows you're there. and we'd go into the biggest town of byron, which was 3,500, and i've never been known to be a natty dresser. >> hey, i see you're pumping your own gas. it's like, yeah. it's like, you kind of wonder what do they think happens? >> i think it can be difficult, and i thank you for your question. because it is something that you struggle with when you're in the
public eye. and with our family we've had a couple generations now of being in the public eye. and so it started way before russ became a sit state rep or a congressperson, and i think the hardest part was when my -- here's an example. when my father-in-law was governor and running for the u.s. senate and my brother-in-law were killed in an airplane crash. and that was very public. that went worldwide. and you're dealing with your own grief, your own tragedy. my children were very young. they were 8 and 12. it was very difficult. it was difficult on all of us. but it was also difficult for the people of the state. so you have to understand that
they identify with you and your family. and that many of them have loved you and supported you and watched you grow up in life, or watched your kids grow up. and so they identify with you. so you're always very cautious and careful. but you also realize that people are wanting to understand. people are wanting to know. it's not always that it's bad. it's just something that goes with the territory. so it is difficult. and sometimes you go to your kids, you need to be extra careful. you know, it may not be fair that you'll get in the newspaper if you get a speeding ticket and somebody else won't. but believe me, you will be in the newspaper and there will be an article for a speeding ticket. and it's not fair.
but it's there. and so they have some extra burdens and extra responsibilities as members of our family. >> i would just add that, i mean, we have been in the public eye in some incredibly highs and wonderful things, and some very difficult things. but the thing that i think i enjoyed the most is -- there are so many misperceptions about what it means to be in elective office. to sort of break some of those perceptions in the public appearances you make or just do everyday things you do. like going to the grocery store. i can't believe you're out grocery shopping, people would get the biggest kick out of that. or i'm driving my old beat up pickup truck. >> yes. >> so those are things they humanize you. but it's kind of fun to surprise people in those ways.
you know, and there's -- you know, in the 2010 elections, when you had some of the bizarre things going on with -- you know, we had death threats spray painted on our house and our cars, and a casket put in our front yard, just bizarre things that you would never even think of. but that's the kind of range of things that you go through in the public eye. but for the most part it's positive. and some of those negative things you just have to deal with it and go on. >> thank you all. >> i just had a technical question. you were a senior democratic whip. what does the whip do? >> what does the whip do? it's actually a great visual. if you can -- it will picture trying to corral up people and
whip them to get in place to do what they need to do when a key vote is coming up. it's part messages to members, when a key vote comes up, and part just good 'ol fashioned math and counting heads when votes are coming up. that's where the tradition of the whip title came from. >> i'm glad you weren't steve scalise. that was another very touching moment in the congressional life. >> yeah, indeed. thank you for your question. >> others? please. >> i was just going to -- i know neither of you are in congress anymore, but dealing with this president and the way he chooses to communicate through tweets and a lot of brinkmanship, and people worked up all around. what do you suggest to your
colleagues, and what can spouses and families do to help turn the temperature down to bring people together to get the work of government done. >> that is the question of the day, i think. but part of it is just being civil and, you know, trying to find common sense solutions to get things done. so i think one of the frustrations about what people see in washington, that it looks more like a food fight than people actually wanting to get things done. and, you know, it's a powerful thing to do a bipartisan event with someone where, you know, even though you may be different political party or a different part of the country, or maybe you vote differently 90% of the time, but you find those issues where you have common ground. and you get things done. i mean, that's, to me, the best way to show there's an alternative to some of those things. >> i think that social media has done more to destroy this
country. at one time if you had naught against somebody you would pick up the phone or call them or look at them in the face. >> or write a letter. >> and now -- we had facebook and some guy would -- he was just nasty. i told my press guy, i said just cut him off. >> oh, you can't do, he'll be upset. >> i said that's tough. why should i provide a forum, really at taxpayer's expense for somebody to get on there and swear, and to say all this ugly stuff. and i think that social media has generated and spawned and legitimized irreverent behavior. because they get away with it. no one holds people accountable for that. whenever i counsel a young
person getting ready to go to college or looking for a job, i say i've hired a lot of people, i always check the internet. if you've gone up there and you've used the f bomb, you will never get hired in my office. never. watch what you say. watch how you treat -- or if you say something that is really hateful because, you know, a man speaks what's in his heart, and the best thing that you can do and check into a future employee is to see what they've said on the internet. i mean, this is destructive. it's destructive what people are saying. and they're getting away with it unrequited. now days there's no accountability for irreverent behavior. and it's not an age thing. because trump is 71. >> well, and our leaders have to be civil. and they think that that's a concern, i know, that russ and i have. and i think that the american
has that concern. i mean, when you're a leader, it's one thing to have social media, and thi agree with you vy much, but we cannot as leaders allow ourselves to go down to that level. because we are elected to come here and to work together and to figure out how to get things done. and when you've got people at the top speaking this way, and degrading people, and being personally destructive, i mean, this makes the term politics of personal destruction, like, wow, that was nothing, you know. this is really bad. so i think we need to hold our leaders accountable. and not accept -- >> you need to hold parents accountable to stop their kids from getting involved in that trash. >> so let's -- what i'm thinking about is i don't want us to get too far afield, and kind of talking about the present day.
because i do think one of the things that's actually very interesting about the time that we're in is it is a little bit like watching a car crash. you can't not look. and we all keep looking. so even every conversation ends up being about this. and this is where one of the things we might want to start thinking about, and i think tonight would be an interesting place to start imagining this, is how do we think spouses and congressional families could maybe think about ways to do things together to show legacy and generation and history and reverence for what it means? i mean, maybe there's some sort of role for the former member of congress association to bring more former members and their families and their spouses together in a bipartisan way across the country.
>> that's a really good point. and as you were talking, i was thinking. i thought, you know, there's a lot that we already do together, and the spouses do our international clubs at the first ladies luncheon. i at least know with former first lady michelle obama, we always went out and did a public service of some type. republican and democrat. these are all bipartisan groups. it was amazing, too, how we shared with each other. and then i would say, russ, did you know about this? did you know about this? because i learned about it from one of the other spouses. he'd be like, no, i never even knew about that. but i don't think, to your point, how do you get this out there? i don't think the individual offices talk enough about what the spouses are doing, what the families are doing, is that in the news letter, does that get put out there? you know, oh, deborah this month was with fellow democrats and
republicans working on this project that was dialogue about this. i think, you know, we should promote that more. it's all behind is scenes stuff that we know about. but the public just sees the nasty, nasty side of the sausage making. and not really the compatibility. and as he was talking about earlier, don, to your point, the hard work that goes on to really make things happen. >> i deeply believe that there are two things that we need. we need to humanize the people who work in politics, and we need to demystify the jobs that they do. and so i do think that just even you being here tonight, sharing some of these experiences about what it was like for you to work together as partners, as spouses, as members, as a family, those are all important ideas. >> i want to share, the former members organization has a program called congress to campus. >> yes.
>> and we were at penn state. any lions here tonight? we were at penn state -- >> and it's always a pair of a republican and democrat. >> and we talk about our experiences. and the kids are shocked that members of the same -- of different parties can speak to each other and get along. and i think that program goes right to the gut of demonstrating to the college students that there's not one devil on one side and an angel on the other side. the fact that people can communicate and talk and respect each other and have this decency. that's new for a lot of kids because there's a thinking today that it's cool to be impolite and rude. that that's to be accepted. that's become a norm.
and this program breaks the chains of that because all of a sudden they see two people who are in congress mostly at the same time talk about -- talk about the sacrifice and the bills that they worked on to make lives better for people, including the kids that are there. >> and, you know, there's a competition out there in news. and, you know, when you have the latest tweet or congressional food fight on one hand, to meeting of democrats and republicans in a room getting along. >> that's not news. >> you know what's going to be in the news. how do you get that message out there that there's value in that and that actually does happen? you just don't hear about it in the news very often. >> let's face it, right, every single business actually requires cooperative work. i mean, i think one of the sort of great illusions is this idea
that anyone does any one thing alone. it doesn't matter whether you're in a corporation or whether you're in, you know, congress, or whether you're in an educational institution. you know, when i write a journal article, many, many people have read it and responded to it and critiqued it before it is published. and all of that is a cooperative process. and so i do think that what you're talking about is how you can work together and engage each other and engage more people in this process as possible. so getting back just to the family thing, one last sort of thought. if there was one thing that you could do more when you were sort of in politics, in campaigning, what would it be? and if there was one thing you could do less, and i already know the answer to this because they always say it, what would it be?
and sort of what was your favorite part of the campaign or the politics? not solely the people, but i mean the tasks. like what sorts of things did you like? did you enjoy the town halls? did you enjoy, you know, the one on one meetings with your constituents? did you learn a lot from lobbyists, which is another profession that is often derided, yet most people don't realize it's actually protected in our constitution. and it is, you know, truly a profession of education, being a lobbyist. and so i think there are a lot of different jobs that one does when they are a representative. they have their party pulling on them, they have their district pulling on them, they have different members asking them to do different things. their committee assignments, all these different priorities. so i'm curious, what were the tasks that you enjoyed, both as a member, and as a spouse, and
what were the things you wish you didn't have to do? anyone? >> i'll go. >> okay. i'll start with the positives first. you said not the people. but the part i enjoyed the most still was meeting the people that came into the office to discuss issues. and as often as i could be there, and especially russ would make sure, and staff was very good at making sure if folks were coming in to talk with russ on issues that i had expertise in, or that i cared about, and had developed some expertise in, they made sure to let me know. and if there were like a woman's group that was coming in from rwanda, and it was on legal issues and what was happening
there, and they knew that foreign was going on, they'd be like, judge, do you want to go to this and meet these women and talk to them? it was constantly a wonderful education process. you know, so i felt like a sponge. just getting all this information about all these wonderful different subjects by people who really knew what they were talking about. so i still think that's the most wonderful part of it. and you might find this funny coming from the spouse, but the part i would like to do less of is fund raising. because i did a lot of fund raising. i would spend time on the phone. i would do fundraisers. and it takes up so much of your time. the members and the spouse, depending on if you want to do that or not. from what you really enjoy doing and what i really think that you're there to do. so yeah, fund raising. >> yeah. >> well, i would say my favorite
part would be what i would call the art of politics. and that is taking an idea, bringing in experts or constituents that know about it, shaping that into something, and then building a coalition around it. to me, that is the most fun. and, you know, just one example, we had our local chapter of the ms society came to my office. we talked about the need, they needed more research. and they had identified the congressionally directed medical research in the department of defense that they had never funded ms research before. so we put together a coalition, we worked with other members, and their national group. and that -- i found a republican partner, a republican that i had almost nothing in common with, but we teamed up on this issue.
and we made the -- created the first funding through that. and to me that's the kind of thing that is the challenge, the opportunity. and really that art of politics, bringing people together to make something happen. and, of course, my least favorite is fund raising. >> i bet i'm going to get four out of four on that. >> i don't think anybody likes the fund raising. >> she does. >> i do. >> i would say that i would agree with you that it's the people that you meet. and it's likewise, if someone was coming into the office that don knew i was going to be interested in their topic, i would come. and there were -- because i came from a medical technology background, a lot of people that came in with health issues, i was really interested in those. and i think that the greatest
satisfaction that you get is when somebody comes in with a problem that they just haven't been able to solve, and they're frustrated. and you realize that you can do something about that, that you can put the wheels in motion, and get them connected with the people that are going to help them, and that you can -- you just feel like you can do a lot of good for people. we had someone in our district that had been trying to adopt a child from the philippines. >> five years. >> and had really run into a snag with that. and when it finally came to our attention, we were able to actually really get in touch with the ambassador from the philippines and make it happen. and this -- after waiting for five years, they finally -- it finally all came to be. and that little girl's living in
illinois with the family that loves her. those are the things that you just -- i think now when we're back home, and people come up and they'll tell you that they have a problem, you still emphasize, you still steer them towards where they could get help. but you feel a little bit more helpless because you're not really their representative anymore and you can't help them quite as much. >> i think, you know, aside from the fund raising, and no one likes that, i set my priorities when i was elected. and i really have no regret in anything. one of my priorities was to spend a lot of time with the students from the -- russ, remember the national high school groups that would come in. there were a couple of them. >> was it called the
presidential classroom. >> another one like that. i would spend one hour with those kids. and i would move heaven and earth to get them in. and if i missed them, we'd get their number, they'd go home, i'd get on the phone with them, one time to talk to this 16-year-old for about an hour on the phone. and her mother said she's my biggest fan, and she couldn't even vote for me. but the opportunity of a congressman to bend a twig, to have a opportunity to shape and mold the lives of these young people. i've got an intern from china. and i had the opportunity today to explain to him what freedom is. he did not know why so many people in america could have different opinions. he said, boss, i don't
understand that. and it was the most remarkable opportunity. i chair the u.s. china change, we were at johns hopkins university in nan jang. and a young chinese student, 200 students, half american, and half chinese, a young chinese student stood up and she said, do you think that china is ready for freedom? is ready for democracy? and congressman bill pascrell from new jersey gave the most brilliant defense of the doctrine of natural law at explaining the source of liberties to this chinese student. you can't envision the opportunities that we have as members of congress. and i look back and i made a commitment at the beginning to spend a lot of time with these
young people. and that's been the greatest reward in my life as a member of congress. met presidents, traveled all over the world, but no time was spent any more importantly than with those 16-year-olds who wanted to know about the nature of this country. and, of course, we always sent them to the department of archives. >> so i think with that, are there any last questions? please go to the microphone, and then i think we'll wrap up. >> i'm from ukraine. so as an international, i have a little bit of a different perspective. you had, i think, an amazing point on the declaration of independence as a person from ukraine we're newly democratic. and i don't see any of our politicians having the reverence towards law, towards democracy and freedom as you guys do. i bet you if there were people from ukraine, especially
politicians from ukraine, would sit there, their watches would be half a million dollars. and that is what's called democracy in eastern europe. what my question is, both of you served on foreign committees. as a family, what was it like dealing with foreign counterparts, and what do you think the u.s. can do better to export the values abroad? >> well, i chaired the u.s. china interparliamentry exchange, and the u.s. canadian interparliamentry exchange and was active in the exchange with eu and also with japan and korea. working with the chinese counterparts was extraordinarily difficult, not that they were hard people, but they have no definition of the word freedom. it just was not on their vocabulary. and so the mere fact that we
could talk about different things, and even offend the president, god forbid by saying something like that, that just amazed them. they couldn't believe we would have that much freedom to actually criticize the government. >> yeah, i served on the subcommittee on the international organizations of foreign affairs. we dealt with a lot of those delegations. there were several parts of that that were meaningful. one -- first, my staff tried to talk me out of getting involved in the foreign affairs committee because they said what does that have to do with your district? and a lot. if you have businesses involved in international trade. you have students going to universities all over the world. you have ethnic groups that, you know, care about other parts of the world. and so those were -- we were always able to tie those issues back to our district and our state. but we also learn things. that exchange of ideas.
we learn things about, you know, germany had been way ahead of us on green energy and how to do those kinds of transitions. you learn things, you share ideas, and you have some common problems. and so we don't, in america, have, you know, a monopoly on good ideas. but we have to be open to those. and so, you know, we share our experiences with other countries. how we deal with things. and the other -- finally, i'd say, is just relationships. they really matter. around the world, and building those through the congress, through other parliaments, and some of our best allies in other countries are leaders who have had an experience in the united states. they've come here as an exchange student, they've been to one of our universities, and so they understand us a little bit. and they, the people in other
countries that have had those experiences, it really improves that relationship. so it's really an important thing, an important function of our congress. >> i'll also just say that -- so that you know, alexander hamilton at one point in time, he was very frustrated in -- i think it was 1801, a few years before he died in the dual, he referred to the constitution as the frail fabric that is the constitution. so i would argue that part of what's going on in ukraine, it's just new. i mean, newness is hard to create legitimacy and tradition. and i do think that the one big advantage we have now is we've got over 200 years of tradition and history. and trust me, not all of it was upstanding or calm or civil.
you know, there was a member of congress who did shoot another individual on the steps of capitol hill and got away with it. so life has been tumultuous at different times. so needless to say, any last thoughts? >> i would say that people need to be encouraged to run for public office. >> for sure. >> people say, well, you know, they got everybody wants to run. that's not true. there are a lot of people that are afraid if they run for office, that somebody would dig out some dirt on them. you run for public office, your public life is an extension of your personal life. you don't live a bifurcated life. and you try to live as a person of integrity. and to take those values and promote them.
we have a good friend back home with westerndig hoffman's disease. she's in a wheelchair. she sleeps in an iron lung at night. she needs a 24-hour caretaker. she, anna, is running to be on the board of supervisors of dane county in madison, wisconsin. what an extraordinary thing. and i look at her and say, she decided to get involved, and she can't even wheel her own wheelchair. it's electric. if she thinks that much about america, that she wants to get involved to make a difference with her physical disability, how much more the rest of us americans should use it as an example of what people are willing to do to have their
voice heard. >> that's great. >> i mean, i would echo that, just the importance of, i think, all of us, whether we're in office, or out, telling our story about what a difference it can make, that, you know, it's not -- it's not just -- you know, it's not that everybody can be involved in it. in some way, even not running for office, you can be involved in volunteering for a campaign, or working in a an office, and there's lots of ways you can make a difference in your community. and i think telling little stories are a great way to do that. we're seeing a new generalation -- generation of people engaging in that and that's very good for our country. >> i want to thank the former members for having this forum, and certainly to asking russ and i to be part of it, and the national archives. >> you haven't joined yet? >> oh, yeah, we are.
>> we'll take your check tonight. >> we are, and our dues are current. but and because this is something that's talked about, but not always given a public, you know, forum to discuss. this lifestyle is a unique lifestyle. certainly there are husbands and wives that work together. russ and i did in the law firm. we have in other places we're currently working together. but in the congress, it's -- in politics, it's unique. and it does take a village. it does take a family. and it really does matter. and i think that's why i was struck when we first came to congress how much support i felt there was there for the spouses and for their families and that they really try hard to be inclusive and to support. so i just wanted to say that this was a great forum, and thank you. and if you ever want me back, just holler at me.
there will be a memorial service at the u.s. capital for reverend billy graham who died last week at the age of 99. house speaker paul ryan and senate majority leader mitch mcconnell will speak at the service, and the body will lie in honor at the capital. we'll have live coverage wednesday starting at 11:00 a.m. eastern on cspan. the c-span bus is traveling across the country on our 50 capitals tour. we recently stopped in jackson, mississippi asking folks who's the most important issue in their state? >> i work on, along with my partners, women's rights in the state of mississippi, really pushing a women's economic security agenda. so that we can bring women's voices to the state capital so that laws and policies can be made in the best interest of them. and so this legislative session we've introduced with our legislative partners legislation around equal pay, child care,
raising the wages for women, because we know that women in this state are majority of the breadwinners in mississippi. and so we want to be able to close the gap so that low-income working women are able to make ends meet with their families. >> and i think congress should step in to help mississippi with the health care program. it seems to be so unorganized now. i think they can do a lot of help to get it back on their feet with health care. >> state representative karrem, house district 41, the most important issue we have as we deal with criminal justice reform, as of today, we have over 19,000 people in our state penitentiary, over 34,000 people on parole, we have almost 9,000 that are in private prison. but the astonishing statistic we
have to deal is there's almost 500,000 individuals that have felonies in the state that can't find employment. as we progress in this capital, i hope that we can get legislation passed to deal with the criminal justice reforms that so need it in this state. >> i think right now, education funding and how that looks, and the equality in the funding measures that our legislature chooses to enact in, and also infrastructure, and ensuring we are able to bring businesses and allow people to travel throughout our state. in an infrastructure that's not crumbling. for everyone involved whether they are mississippians or not. >> voices from the states, on c-span. the group amnesty international released its annual human rights report and was critical ofsi