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Checks and balances: Touring the seats of power
posted by John : July 11-20, 2017

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Business as usual

What do you know about our form of government? You know... the whole representative democracy thing. How many branches are there? What are their roles? How does each branch keep the others from getting too much control? Well, guess what?

You're not going to learn it from me. I'm just going to tell you about how we visited a bunch of government buildings. If you want to know about all that you should check out this handy page about the branches of government on Or take a civics class.

We started our day in the Longworth House Office Building. How exciting, right? Offices are so intriguing. That's why I go to work is to see an office with cubicles and doors. Oh, wait. Not true. But we were there because we had an appointment. Our representative, Dave Reichert, had arranged a tour of the Capitol. Whether your candidate won or lost in the last election take advantage of the opportunity to get a tour.

We were assigned to an intern named Andrew. Poor, poor Andrew. Between our divided attention, the hot and humid weather, and a never ending stream of questions it's a wonder he didn't abandon us deep beneath the Capitol. Instead, he toured us all around and gave us the inside scoop. It was a great tour. We even got tickets for the House gallery and watched the representatives conduct business. At least I think that's what we saw. It's very confusing and not what you think it's like when you see it on C-SPAN.

From the Capitol we crossed to the Supreme Court. The Court wasn't in session so the plaza and buildings were pretty much deserted. Or maybe it was the sun baking the white marble. We had a chance to wander the Court and peek into the chambers. I would love to have been there while the Court heard arguments, but it was not to be this time.

Nor was any particular visit to the White House. People following along can't be surprised that I'm not a big fan of the current administration. We did visit the White House Visitor Center and learned all about the history of the Presidency. There was no mention of the current occupant of the White House. Perhaps some day in the future we'll return and take a tour of the White House itself.

Throughout our time in D.C. we were surrounded by the machinery of the government. There were embassies on every corner, buildings housing federal departments, and smartly dressed people running here and there doing the tasks of governing. I'm sure sitting in those seats of power is intoxicating, but we've had our visit. Neat places, but not for us.

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