Millions of people from around the world visit our nation’s capital each year. This month, about a hundred new lawmakers are arriving in Washington. They would be wise to do some sightseeing and pay attention to a few details for inspiration and guidance.

The reflecting pool on the north side of the capitol symbolizes the fact that the men and women we elect to Congress reflect all of us. We send them to Washington to enact laws that protect what people from coast to coast feel is most important to themselves, their businesses and the nation.

A year ago the reflecting pool was empty due to construction. When rainwater pooled there, it became stagnant and smelly. Some might say this sad state of affairs was an apt reflection of a Congress that didn’t always represent the people’s priorities.

Farmers and ranchers certainly experienced this several times during the 111th Congress. The House passed a climate “cap and trade” bill that would make life more difficult and costly, while doing little if anything to curb climate change. Major emitters — and competitors — like China and India would not have had to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Extension of tax cuts to keep the economic recovery on a forward path was delayed. Congress didn’t pass the tax cuts until after the election. Congress passed the health care reform bill despite concerns about how it would affect small businesses. Some lawmakers were pushing for the federal government to seize control from states over the regulation of nearly every pond, ditch or puddle. Meanwhile, the national debt grew, and grew.