Mr. Smith Leaves Washington

Three members of Congress who decided not to seek re-election explain why they grew disillusioned -- and how to change a stalemated system

So far this year, 56 members of Congress have announced that they will not seek re-election in November, the largest voluntary departure since World War II. Among those who have decided not to return are Democratic Senators Tim Wirth of Colorado and Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Republican Congressman Vin Weber of Minnesota. At a round-table session, Wirth, Conrad and Weber discussed their reasons for leaving and how their attitudes toward government and public service were changed by their experiences in Washington. Excerpts:

Q. How can Congress be strengthened so it functions in ways that make sense to people like...

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