When I left public office in 1999, I joined with Indiana University to establish the Center on Congress, a nonpartisan educational institution whose mission is twofold: helping Americans better understand Congress and its role in sustaining the health of our democracy, and teaching young people and adults how to communicate their concerns to Congress, so it may truly be the responsive “people’s branch” that the framers intended.
I am pleased to report that over the past dozen years, the Center has developed an extensive array of resources and programs that reach out to a wide variety of Americans—students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels; teachers in the social studies; college and university scholars of Congress and American politics; journalists; people seeking to become U.S. citizens; and concerned citizens everywhere who want to make their voices heard in the halls of government.
Our website contains full details on the work the Center does to improve the public’s understanding of Congress, strengthen civic engagement, and teach the skills that are essential to the continued success of our great experiment in representative government: learning, listening, reasoning together, and finding consensus.
The future of our nation depends on Americans understanding our political heritage and being equipped to think critically and participate constructively in local, state, and federal affairs. The freedoms we enjoy carry with them certain obligations—to be informed about issues, to listen to opposing views, and to work in a civil manner to resolve the conflicts that inevitably arise in a nation of more than 300 million people.
In local forums and in the chambers of Congress, it is your voice that matters. By making yourself heard, you make our democracy work. I encourage you to use the Center’s resources, and to participate in your nation’s government.
Lee H. Hamilton
Director, Center on Congress
Representative, United States Congress, 1965-99