OfficialPortraitSmallby Senator Chris Coons

Why would any rational person want to run for Congress? It’s a question a lot of Americans of all political parties and background are asking, either directly or indirectly, via the record-low approval ratings that they give the House and Senate today. After all, as one recent poll shows, Congress as an institution is less popular than root canals, cockroaches, and the band Nickelback.

Yet when you put Twitter aside and turn off cable news, you see that members of Congress still have a unique opportunity to make a difference for the people we serve — we just have to get a little creative to get things done.

If you invest time and energy building relationships with members of both parties, as I’ve done, you can find areas of agreement that actually lead to getting good policies signed into law. When you build a team of dedicated constituent advocates, as I’ve done in Delaware, you have the ability to help your constituents cut through the red tape of government. From making sure Delaware veterans get the support and benefits they deserve, to helping constituents sign up for health care, my team and I have the opportunity to make a real difference.

What you don’t see on TV is that serving in Congress is actually an opportunity to get substantive, meaningful, positive things done. If the Congress you saw on TV was the same Congress in which I serve — I’m not sure how I’d answer the question posed by the title of my TEDx talk.

But it’s not just what you see on TV. That’s why we have to tell the story of the human beings trying hard to do the right thing in Congress — because we have to fight the cynicism and fear that is so pervasive in our politics today. I’ve long thought that the country would be well-served by seeing what I see behind the scenes in the Senate. That’s what I’ve been reflecting on as I prepared my TEDx talk, and that’s what I hope to convey when I speak on Wednesday.