“When I took the train every night—and I still do whenever possible—I always noticed the lights on in the houses flickering in the passing neighborhoods, dotting the landscape speeding by my window. Moms and dads were at their kitchen table, talking after they put their kids to bed. Like Americans everywhere, they were asking questions as profound as they are ordinary: Should Mom move in with us now that Dad is gone? How are we going to pay the heating bills? Did you hear the company may be cutting our health care? Now that we owe more on the house than it’s worth, how are we going to send the kids to college? How are we going be able to retire?
I would look out the window and hear their questions, feel their pain. And every time I made that trip, it would inspire me to get up the next day, head back down to Washington, and give them the answers they’re looking for. Those moments looking out the window and seeing the lights on, they told me things that the briefing folders in front of me never could. They gave color and meaning to the problems I’ve spent my career trying to solve.”