After introducing themselves and talking about their families; each person in the room was asked to explain why they ran for office in the first place:
"I was the first one in my family to go to college, thanks to the GI Bill, and I always felt an obligation - a sense of duty - to my fellow Americans."
"My parents came to this country for an opportunity. They found it working two and sometimes three jobs. Jobs for which they were over-qualified, but they never complained, they knew my status an American citizen was all the reward they wanted. It's time to make the American dream reality for everyone."
"Well, this will sound corny, but I watched 'When Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' and knew that's what I wanted to do... I wanted to come to the nation's Capitol and help craft laws that protected the people and served their best interests. I wanted to be part of the great experiment that is our democracy and demonstrate that legislators and executive officers and justices could help create a more perfect union.
"Now, I must admit to you folks here today - my friends and colleagues - that what we are doing now is not an experiment - it's a mess. A mess we are all contributing to as we fail to deliberate and seek out solutions to the problems of today and the future, and instead waste our time seeking personal glory rather than the joy of getting things done. We can do better, ladies and gentlemen, and I hope this meeting today will be the first step toward that goal."
Minutes passed. The room was quiet. Cups of coffee cooled in their saucers. Tissues wiped away silent tears running down faces. Muffled coughs were made into sleeves.
"Just in case anyone wants to know," started the quiet voice of a usually boisterous leader, "I came here thinking it was just another photo-op. I'm sorry. Your stories today reminded me of why I tried to be elected to serve my friends and neighbors... my constituents. I can do better, too. My idea today, is that this group continues meeting once, maybe twice a month... with no cameras or press aides... to brainstorm and reach agreements. We do that - and we can be the leaders we were sent here to be."
"I agree," came the reply from another previously quiet guest (one who was more than happy to debate the color of the sky on cable TV if given the chance), "the next election cycle will just have to wait. Maybe this time, if we, all of us, work together we can inspire the American people to study the issues instead of holding their noses when they go to the polls."
Later, after each man and woman had shared their story - they agreed to keep this highly unusual meeting a closely held secret. Maybe others would know, but the group agreed to speak frankly inside the room and leave the disagreements at the door. Hands were clasped in real handshakes and warm smiles instead of the made for TV 'grip and grin' that meant nothing. It was a turning point - as if Benjamin Franklin's advice was suddenly heard, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
Yokes of party obligation left behind in the great room's lost and found - left each man and woman with a new sense of obligation and sense of patriotic pride. It might not last, but the ember of democracy is glowing a little brighter after a meeting of the minds led each person in attendance to honor their loyalties, hold fast to their positions, but also pledge to work together - as they were sent to the capitol to do.
Well, can't I at least pretend that's what I read in the paper?
Come to think of it, if it did - or does happen - no one would believe it anyway.
Pray for our leaders, our country, the men and women serving in our armed forces, and may God continue to bless America!