Young Marines donning formal Dress Blues--stiff white hats, pressed khaki shirts with matching ties, and blue pants with a singular red stripe on each leg--are escorting newly elected members of Congress to the baggage claim at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Once their bags are loaded, a fleet of black sedans chauffeurs the new additions to the 112th Congress past marble monuments of the nation's heroes. On the horizon one can see a sliver of the majestic Capitol dome lit up from a bright fall sun. That dome is now their office, and for many in this year's freshmen class their time in Washington marks their first ever elected public service.
Mixed in with all the political novices are six veteran Republicans who rode the same wave back to power after having lost or left their jobs in the past decade. The mostly gray haired or balding men know Washington, they remember the strategic mistakes their party made the last time they held the reigns, and, as both veterans and newcomers, they're uniquely positioned to mediate between the energized ranks of new Republicans and senior party leaders.
Representatives-elect Steve Chabot of Ohio and Charlie Bass of New Hampshire were ushered into power in the 1994 Republican Revolution. Former and now future Indiana Senator Dan Coats was already in office during that time. These returning members still carry the vivid memories--and even some political scars--of battle with the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton.