The newly elected members of the House of Representatives will be arriving in Washington for their first big decisions — leadership elections and hiring of staff.

Here is some unsolicited advice for these idealistic newcomers as they hit Jenkins Hill.

  • Move your family to D.C. with you. It may not make the most financial sense, the kids have to change schools and it is a pain since you will be travelling back to the district a lot in the next two years — but having your family near keeps you grounded in what matters in your life.
  • Write down the three reasons why you ran for Congress on a card, laminate it and put it on your bathroom mirror. This way, every morning you can look at those reasons, helping you keep your bearings against an almost overwhelming D.C. culture that will change you.
  • Hire staff members that are in philosophical alignment with you. They are going to be doing much of the groundwork; if they don't share your values and core political beliefs, the information you receive will inevitably be presented based upon their view of the world, not yours.
  • Identify five touchstone people in your district whom you can rely upon for honest advice and information about what is really happening back home. When you travel back as a member of Congress, most people are going to pat you on the back and tell you what a fabulous job you are doing. Find people who don't do that, and pay attention to them.

Our nation is in a time of crisis. Congress's approval rating is at an all-time low. There will be enormous pressure to show that Congress can work by passing a number of pieces of so-called "consensus" legislation. Always remember that passing legislation is not your job. It is your job to represent your constituents and your core beliefs, and protect them from more ill-conceived D.C. schemes, even those presented under the guise of bipartisan goodwill.

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You know the problems:

Our nation has a debt of $18 trillion, with off-budget Medicare and Social Security obligations looming.

We have a military that is being deliberately hollowed out at a time when Sharia-ism is on the rise, China is looking to surpass us and Russia is headed by someone who looks fondly upon the Cold War.

In spite of the major tax increases passed by the last Congress, we continue to run an almost $500 billion deficit. In fact, no president not named Obama has ever had a fiscal year finish with a higher net deficit than we had last year.

Our southern border is a sieve, wages continue to stagnate and decline, and our young people are strangled by a higher-education system designed to make them debt servants.

Small businesses which hire Americans are punished by the tax code, while multinationals manipulate it to their advantage, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has engaged in an unprecedented regulatory power grab.

These are just a few of the problems your predecessor left you. Each of you has a solution — just remember who you are and why you decided to run for office in the first place as you search for it. Welcome to D.C. — let's make America great again.

Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government. Contact him at rmanning@getliberty.org.