News & Politics

Why Trent Lott Has Stayed In Washington

In the ’90s, Trent Lott led a GOP caucus that railed against DC. Now safely retired, he’s still here.

Congress would work better, says Trent Lott, if politicians--and their families--actually lived here.

“People ask me all the time: ‘Why do you spend as much time as you do in Washington?’ First of all, it’s an entertaining place to live. My wife and I live in an apartment on Pennsylvania Avenue near my law office, and on weekends we walk to Georgetown, we eat at nice restaurants, we go to the movie theater, we shop at the shops.

“I also tell people, quite honestly, I continue to spend time in Washington because that’s where the problems are and where the money is.

“We brought up our kids in Annandale. It was a delightful neighborhood. When our kids were gone, we lived on the Hill and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would walk to work.

“I think my record will show that generally I was a happy warrior. It was a great honor to be here. And we got a lot done. We cut taxes, we balanced the budget, we passed welfare reform. When I say ‘we,’ it was President Clinton and I and Newt Gingrich and Tom Daschle. We found a way to work together.

“[My former Senate colleague] Tom Daschle and I have written a book together. It’s called Crisis Point: Why We Must—and How We Can—Overcome Our Broken Politics in Washington and Across America. One of our principal recommendations is: Bring your families to Washington. Don’t sleep in your office. Because of not being here, they don’t get to know each other. We used to socialize with our Democratic friends. Our kids knew their kids. It’s a lot easier to be mean-spirited to someone you don’t know.

“This is our nation’s capital. It has a lot of beautiful things to offer. I think it gets a bum rap.”

-As told to Sherri Dalphonse

This article appears in our Defense of Washington feature in the March 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

Editor in chief

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.