If you work on Capitol Hill, you and I likely have a great deal in common. You love this country and want to make it better. You are passionate about politics, the campaign trail and the legislative process. You worry about the future, of America and of you and your loved ones. You probably grew up somewhere else, most likely out there in “Flyover Country.”
It doesn’t matter which political party you identify with or where on Capitol Hill you spend your workdays. Your hours are long and odds are good you could be making more money working somewhere else (maybe a whole lot more if you’ve been on the Hill for a few years).
But you get to rub elbows with many of America’s best-known leaders, and your job affords endless opportunities to get good things done and meet and work with interesting and amazingly smart, skilled people. Money can’t buy the satisfaction that can come with that, right? Heartaches can come with it as well, as you probably know, or are learning, by now.
Fact is, for better or worse, the Hill and politics are your world. Maybe not tomorrow, but for now, most of your friends also work here, including people you socialize with, enter into (and out of!) romantic and “other” relationships, and compete/cooperate with to grab that next rung up the success ladder.
Many of them you like, some of them you can’t stand, and a select few of them will probably be your friends for life. You see traits in some of them you admire and in others things that you would never want to characterize you.
But Are You Happy?
You tell yourself and others you are. As happy as you think you should be or want to be or thought you would be by now? Hmmm. I know the feeling.
My first four years here were spent on the Hill, initially on the House side as a press secretary and a chief of staff, then as communications director for a senator.
It was dazzling, exhilarating even; being young and working with so many smart, powerful, famous men and women, hitting the receptions with the free food, booze and casual hookups, making a difference on important issues, growing in influence, knowledge, skills, position and importance.
Or so I thought.
“I kept telling myself I really was happy, but in my most sober, reflective moments, I knew better.”
When I left the Hill for a couple of challenging political appointments in the Reagan administration, there was something not quite right. I kept telling myself I really was happy, but in my most sober, reflective moments, I knew better because I the wreckage of my personal life was impossible to miss.
In the years ahead, I “fixed” it with better jobs, a somewhat different but related career, divorce and remarriage, even fulfilling a childhood dream by becoming a race car driver in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).
I raced a Formula Ford open-wheel, single-seater for three years at Summit Point, and a Mustang GT in the International Motorsports Association (IMSA) at Watkins Glen and Summit Point. Spent a lot of time on Road Atlanta, Moroso Park and Willow Springs, too.
On the outside, I certainly looked like a success, at least on the track and in the newsroom. On the inside, though, it was a different story. Eventually, it all came apart and my world was shattered.
Sobriety and humility are wonderful and I’ve been blessed in the decades since with a wonderful wife, a son and daughter, five grand children, and a renewed career that I absolutely love. I do still miss suiting up, strapping on my helmet and carving apexes on the track, though!
The new career, as an investigative journalist, has led to many opportunities to shine the light of transparency and accountability in dark places in government and resulted in something I am especially proud of, being voted in as a member of the Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame. It was an honor being named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008, too.
Don’t worry, it’ll just be friendly conversation, no judgements, no preaching, just two people talking about how to make it on the Hill and everywhere else.
But far more important than all the scoops and any of the honors, I have been blessed with a deepening awareness of life-changing facts about myself, history, faith, science, people and living through a growing, thriving, incredibly rewarding relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ who created all of us and indeed the whole universe. And He is coming back someday.
So Here’s “The Ask”
Maybe you’d like to know more about how this all happened, to see if maybe there are a few lessons —some practical, some spiritual — I’ve learned that might help you.
Don’t worry, it’ll be a friendly conversation, no judgements, no preaching, just two people talking about how to make it on the Hill and elsewhere. We can talk for half an hour (or more, or less, if you like) over coffee. Senate or House side. Tell me what works for you. God bless.
Mark Tapscott is HillFaith’s editor, IT jockey, spiritual guide, chief bottle washer and overall Jack-of-All-Trades. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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