The Random House College Dictionary I keep at my desk defines perspective as “the ability to see all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship.”  And nowhere is it more difficult to keep proper perspective than in our nation’s capital. 

Washington—like the entire nation—is a-Twitter (pun intended) today over the implications Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts special election has on health care reform, the Obama agenda, and the 2010 midterm congressional elections. And in the past 24 hours I have heard all sorts of analysts prognosticate over where Congress and the political parties go from here. Some views have been thoughtful, and others reflect sheer glee or misery, depending on the ideology of the commentator.  

I don’t believe any one analyst or lawmaker has the omniscience to predict how this all plays out. But if last night’s election in Massachusetts has any lesson to teach about perspective, here is what we can take away: pay attention to the American people.  

Scott Brown galvanized support when he claimed that “it's the people’s seat.” And Americans everywhere agree—they are carefully watching Congress and the Administration, and they are prepared to hold lawmakers of both parties accountable.  So my advice to politicians seeking a proper perspective? Pay attention to the American people—after all, they are paying attention to you.


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