Sunday, April 22, 2007

Springfield, IL

I used to think the best part of going to Springfield, our state capital, was visiting the historic Lincoln Home. Our family has toured it twice, and it has a strong appeal to young and old. On Wednesday, though, my girls and I found ourselves in the Old State Capitol building, and lovin’ it.

A politically savvy mom I know, here in Chicago, organized and secured funding for this one-day road trip from the Illinois State Representative who serves our daughters’ school. About 10 families rearranged their schedules to join us for the day—meeting our representative, handing him our letters, viewing the assembled legislators at work from the balcony, and waving to them when our group was introduced. However, rushing from gathering place to gathering place, going through security, listening to the rattling off of House bills to be voted on, and registering all the details seemed to slightly confuse the students in our group. But you know, the way big government works these days is confusing. I doubt any of the kids came away thinking they would like to be a legislator when they grow up.

Afterward, we had a little free time, and decided by group consensus to walk over to the Old State Capitol, the seat of Illinois political life from 1839-1876. Government makes a lot more sense over there. Our children could see where Lincoln worked on his House Divided speech, where he stood to deliver it. They could see the quill pens and pots of ink at each desk in the Senate and the House, the little drawers where tax records where filed, the cozy quarters in which legislators worked together. It’s probably safe to say that our little crew enjoyed this part of the day the most. Why?

I’m convinced we were all feeling the huge sense of relief at having escaped the complexity of modern government.


Johnny Yen said...

Ironically, though people tend to know the least about their state legislature and legislators, the direct impact on their lives are much greater than the national politicians-- matters of education, transportation, etc. tend to be decided largely at the state level.

Kathy said...

Yes, and if I was more informed about when and where actual debates were happening, I would have tried to observe one of them. Next time!