This August has been pretty hard on Members of Congress. Elected officials returned home this recess to be greeted by mobs of angry "Astroturf constituents" at every turn; stalked by political-paparazzi praying for a "macaca" moment that could be viewed by the world via YouTube; and generally told that however they vote, they will be wrong. It may seem like I am sympathetic but the thing is, this is part of the job.
Governing is hard. The solutions to our very real problems demand more than tweaks. Forging a path towards today's "manifest destiny" -- rebuilding a stronger America -- will take elected-officials who are so consumed with finding the right answers to our problems that they aren't thinking about their next elections. Bottom line -- we need brave leaders.
Congressman Perriello (D-VA) summed it up best when he was attacked for voting to pass important climate legislation: "There's got to be something more important than getting reelected.... If I lose my seat, and that's the worst that happens, I could live with that." I don't think that Congressman Perriello is going to lose his seat -- but I do think he displayed the visionary leadership to help this country make the right decisions.
That is why he -- and the 219 other Members of the House who voted for the climate bill -- are heroes. Was the bill perfect? No. Was it the start of something important? Absolutely. Sometimes the first step is the hardest because it puts us on a different path to real change -- and that, my friends, is why these folks were elected in the first place.
Follow Heather Taylor-Miesle on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NRDC_AF