Polling suggests that a majority, if not a supermajority of Americans disapprove of our politicians. But many of our politicians are remarkably impressive. Compiled here is a list of 10 politicians you should know about. Each of them accomplished something amazing in establishing their career and reputation; from saving a life to sporting an awesome hat collection.
1. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA 49)
A former captain in the U.S. Army, Issa flirted with crime throughout the 1980s. He and his brother were charged with stealing a Maserati from a showroom in Cleveland, Ohio. After leaving the Army, Issa sold his car to invest in Steal Stopper, a struggling car alarm business. Drawing on his *reported* experience with car theft, he revived Steal Stopper, and served as CEO of Directed Electronics, which in the 1990s became the single largest manufacturer of anti-theft devices in the nation. From this among other business ventures, Issa is currently the wealthiest member of Congress. His fortune is estimated at $437 million.
2. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA 5)
Representative John Lewis was a Freedom Rider. He helped orchestrate the Selma to Montgomery March as the Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Lewis spoke at the same rally as Martin Luther King Jr. when he gave his famous "I have a dream speech." Today, Lewis serves as a Congressman from Georgia, and Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party. He holds honorary degrees from Brown, Georgetown, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania among others.
3. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
A graduate of Stanford University, and currently a Senator from California, Feinstein was elected Mayor of San Francisco in 1979, becoming the first and only elected female mayor of the city. She oversaw the rehabilitation of San Fran's famous cable car system. City and State mag named her the nation's "most effective mayor."
4. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL 8)
Representative Duckworth served as the Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. She is an Iraq War veteran, where she served as a helicopter pilot. In Iraq she sustained severe wounds that led to the loss of both of her legs. After obtaining a medical waiver, Duckworth served as a lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard. Today, in the House of Representative, Duckworth serves on the Committee of Armed Services. She is likely to mount a Senate campaign later this year.
5. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
A Graduate of Harvard College, Al Franken was a successful writer for Saturday Night Live (SNL), where he received seven Emmy nominations. If you look closely, you can spot him as a baggage handler in Eddie Murphy's 1983 comedy Trading Places. He currently serves as a U.S. Senator from Minnesota.
6. Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC 12)
She is always wearing really awesome hats.
7. Daniel Hernandez
Currently running for the Arizona State Legislature, Daniel Hernandez is credited with saving the life of Representative Gabrielle Giffords. After he heard shots at Giffords' speech, Hernandez rushed over to Giffords where she was on the ground bleeding; Hernandez "held her up and stanched the bleeding with his hand." He received national attention after helping save Representative Giffords life, most notably from President Obama. At a reception in Tucson, Obama thanked Hernandez: "We are grateful to Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby's office. And Daniel, I'm sorry. You may deny it, but we have decided you are a hero, because you ran through the chaos to minister to your boss and tended to her wounds and helped keep her alive."
8. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA 30)
Representative Brad Sherman represents an eponymous district in California, Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles. He holds a B.A. in political science from UCLA and a J.D., Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School. Sherman is a man of great humor; he is noted for his well-intentioned and entertaining questioning of witnesses from his seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
9. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-3 FL)
Representative Ted Yoho, a licensed veterinarian, specializes in caring for large animals. Yoho is one of two veterinarians in the 114th congress. He was ranked as one of the top 10 Republicans to follow on Twitter.
10. Elise Stefanik (R-NY 21)
Representative Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, graduated from Harvard University with honors. Right out of Harvard, Stefanik worked on President George W. Bush's Domestic Policy Council. She has worked on several presidential campaigns, notably helping Paul Ryan prepare for his vice-presidential debate during the 2012 general election. She is 31.
Cover photo: Alex Wong / Getty