Elections can be divisive. The presidential election of 2012 has proven particularly so. With the election as close as it is, people are becoming extremely passionate about their views. When I first arrived on the hill, I was very optimistic about the nature and direction of politics. However, when I first started work, I found myself becoming discouraged at times. As an intern, I am responsible for answering
many calls from constituents and passing along comments to the Congresswoman. At the office, we receive a wide variety of calls. Some are negative, others are positive, but all are emotionally charged. I believe it is important to understand the political process, formulate opinions, and advocate for your beliefs. To this end, every call received in the office is appreciated. However, there are many times in my office when people call and attack not only the views of the Congresswoman, her staff, and myself personally, but also our characters. Some of the calls can become aggressive and overwhelming. It is these calls that initially made me question the direction politics have taken. Many leave me wondering how people can become so disrespectful of the views of others.
One day, after one of the presidential debates, the phone in the office was ringing off the hook. Every staff member was struggling to keep up with the flood of feedback we were receiving. About four hours into the day, I was feeling extremely exasperated when I picked up a line and heard a woman’s voice. She told me that she was a constituent from the Congresswoman’s district. The woman said she was from the opposite party, but wanted to let our office know something that her young son had told her. Her son said that the Congresswoman was one of his heroes, simply because she was a female in a male-dominated field. Despite the obstacles she faced as a woman, she quickly rose through the ranks to become an extremely influential and respected woman in her party. Furthermore, while in office, she has proposed a great deal of legislation to support women’s rights. After hearing her kind words, all of the frustration and discouragement I felt disappeared.
Calls such as these serve as an extremely powerful counterbalance to the strong partisan divisions. I was once asked how I maintain my positivity about the political process in the face of the increasing polarization of the political parties. The call from the woman reminded me that despite political affiliation, there are basic principles that both parties share. Despite their differences, both parties strive for the progress and betterment of the American people. While they may disagree on specific issues, their goal is the same. I believe this is the strength of the American political system. While their have been recent stalemates in Congress, and the election has divided many along party lines, this common end will allow the government to continue improving the lives of American citizens despite their differences.
– Allison Laubach, Star Fellow Fall 2012