It’s what I do


MCLEAN, VA - JULY 28 : Marc Johnson worked for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee until January. He is now unemployed. He does some work as an administrative assistant at Shiloh Baptist Church in McLean where these photos were taken. (Michael S. Williamson/WASHINGTON POST)
July 29, 2011

I’m a congressional staffer…it’s what I do.

These days with political cynicism at an all time high, one probably wouldn’t feel so comfortable in making such an admission.  But I love politics.  I believe in public service.  I also believe in the institution I work for.

Well … I believe in the institution I WORKED FOR.  I worked for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and as a result of the November 2010 elections, I lost my job. The Republicans gained a majority in the House, which means all of the committees would be under Republican control, and the Democrats would be relegated to minority status. When that happens, the once-majority’s committee staff is downsized.  My position was no longer needed in the minority, and as a result, I turned in my keys, Blackberry, congressional ID and other items into my office on Jan. 3, 2011.  I drove out of the Rayburn Parking Garage, and went home. Life as an unemployed person/staffer, is difficult, but I still keep some of the same routines I did when I worked for the committee.  I still read my five newspapers every morning … specifically Roll Call and Hill News. In the bedroom, I turn the television onto CNN or MSNBC, and in the living room I turn on the television to C-Span.  I e-mail or IM friends of mine who are still on the Hill to get the latest gossip, and to gain information on open job positions.

I never took the job for granted. Prior to my work with the committee, I worked for the Office of the Clerk of the House, worked for two members of Congress, and interned for one. I would look at the Capitol Rotunda and always be reminded of not just where I work, but the importance of my work..

Now … it’s been taken away from me. The GOP, specifically the tea party, promised to repeal President Obama’s health-care legislation, and convinced an angry public that their brand of politics was better for this country. Because of their anger, I and approximately 1,300 Democratic staffers lost their jobs.


MCLEAN, VA - JULY 28 : Marc Johnson worked for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee until January. He is now unemployed. He does some work as an administrative assistant at Shiloh Baptist Church in McLean where these photos were taken. (Michael S. Williamson/WASHINGTON POST)

For a while, I was bitter. But now, I don’t have time to be bitter.…I am too busy looking for jobs, and being a recent first-time father to my daughter.  Still, I look forward to the day I can come back to the Hill.  Why?  I’m a congressional staffer … it’s what I do.

Marc Johnson, a 36-year-old former Hill staffer from Ashburn, Va., has been unemployed for six months. Read more about him here. Read about the “Help Wanted” project here. Visit the project home page here.

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