Flexibility in meeting change is vital to the success of American democracy. And seldom has change come so quickly as in this era.

After World War II, veterans returned home eager to find jobs and start families. The postwar baby boom, combined with immigration, doubled the U.S. population over the next half century, increasing demands for schools, housing, and goods; and economic growth was unprecedented. In order to expand the benefits of American freedom and prosperity, Congress passed laws aiding the elderly, disabled, and poor, as well as historic civil rights legislation.

A four-decade Cold War shaped American foreign policy in the last half of the 20th century. Troops fought wars in Korea and Vietnam, and were stationed around the globe. When the Cold War ended, America faced new regional conflicts, as well as the growth of global terrorism. Confronting the challenges of an increasingly interdependent world, the American people continued to express their views within this singular forum of representative democracy—the Congress of the United States.