When I told people that I was coming to D.C. to do another internship on the Hill, I got mixed responses. Some people thought it was great; others wondered why I’d want to go get involved in politics. Others still, joked that hopefully I’d be able to “fix the mess that is government”.
Despite the fact that I’m not forming policy or fixing much, I am learning a lot about the legislative process. I’ve always had an interest in what goes on in Congress, but interning on the Hill has forced me to pay attention in much greater detail. Not only do I read the news, I understand legislation and I am aware of what Congress is voting on. Perhaps most importantly, I listen to the questions and concerns of constituents, so I understand what people are most worried about.
I hear from constituents every day who are passionate about the current state of our political system. They want answers and want someone to be held accountable. Some people just want their opinions heard, and I can respect that.
More people, especially young people, should voice their opinion. Many people I know complain about the government, yet do nothing about it. They consider themselves non-political, but don’t realize that by doing nothing they are actually tacitly supporting the current balance of power.
Joan Kirner, the first female premiere of Australia, agrees. She said at Women Into Power Conference in 1994, “There is no such thing as being non-political. Just by making the decision to stay out of politics you are making the decision to allow others to shape politics and exert power over you. And if you are alienated from the current political system, then just by staying out of it you do nothing to change it, you simply entrench it.”
So rather than being distant from the political process, more people should embrace it if they want to see any sort of changes. After all, there is no such thing as being non-political.
– Hope M., Fall 2011 Star Fellow