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Maira Kalman visits Congress and offers her unique perspective on the legislative process in her continuing series And the Pursuit of Happiness.  Her illustrations highlight nicely the tension between the grandeur of the place and the messages about liberty and equality.


After describing the complicated process for making laws, she highlights something that too many people forget—”the system is supposed to be cumbersome and not subject to the whim of the moment.”  Mission accomplished.  The system also is composed of good people who are doing their best under less-than-perfect circumstances.  As always, Kalman has interesting ways of featuring those folks.


Kalman strikes me as one of our most effective civics teachers—interesting, accessible, and respectful of government institutions and the people who make them work.  Take a look and see what you think.

3 thoughts on “How Congress Works, Sort Of

  1. I love these Kalman posts, Mike. Please keep sending them. Her unique presentation, combining art and quippy verbal observations (almost poetry, I think) are so interesting and insightful. She makes me see and appreciate government in a new, refreshing way, similar to how Ethan Hawke standing on his desk in Dead Poet’s Society made him experience the world differently. We all need to “stand on our desks” more often, and Kalman helps me do that in a figurative sense. I would also like to point out that I come to work at the SOG every day armed with “an indispensable chart of Marcel Proust’s work.” And I use it all the time!

  2. Thanks for this reminder. I had seen this last monthly posting in the NYT, but appreciate seeing it again as I will soon visit my daughter who has recently been transferred to DC from her WA State Congressional office. In the interest of balance, the women’s bathroom is one of my favorites, along with the shiny, shiny tile floors.

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