What is it like to be a Member of Congress? Although we vote for representatives every two years, too few of us take the time to wonder about the pressures, temptations, challenges, and day-to-day frustrations that go into the job once the campaign is over. People who have considered running for office likely haven’t thought far enough ahead to imagine the reality of the business of governing, and it’s no wonder. Political campaigns, from debates to stump speeches, are highly public affairs, frequently televised, and sure to at least make the local newspapers. Behind the cloistered doors of Congress, things are different. Publicity is shunned rather than welcomed, and many politicians would blanche at the thought of giving an unfiltered picture of what their jobs entail to the general public.
But the secrecy of public office, while traditional, is certainly not in the best interest of the voters. This is why transparency has long been a popular, if rarely fulfilled, campaign promise. With Free the People’s new series, The Freshman, we’re taking transparency to a whole new level.
In 2018, Denver Riggleman, a veteran and entrepreneur from Virginia, was elected to his first ever term representing his state’s 5th congressional district. Eager to serve his country, but unsure of what to expect, he invited us to tag along with a couple of cameras and a microphone to find out what it’s really like for a first-term congressman trying to navigate the waters of the legislative branch in these tumultuous times. From government shutdowns, bitter partisanship, and mounting tension between the president and the legislature, to the day-to-day struggle to be an honest and faithful representative of more than 700,000 Virginias, The Freshman offers a unique look behind the scenes of a congressional office.
Most Americans, depending on their view of government, probably draw their impressions of Washington politics either from The West Wing or from House of Cards. Unlike these admittedly entertaining works of fiction, The Freshman aims to bring realism and honesty to an institution that is all too often misrepresented or misunderstood, as well as the people who operate within its marble walls.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to be a legislator, without the benefit of scripted dialogue or meticulously constructed plot twists, you’ll want to catch the introductory episode of The Freshman, available now from Free the People, and stay on the lookout for more episodes appearing throughout the year.