Emerging from the intern cubby after six amazing weeks on the Hill, I leave just like I came: wide-eyed, hopeful, and hungry for change. Except, a new feeling of confidence has wiggled its way in.
First arriving in DC, I was honestly quite cautious. The Hill was actually on a hill (who knew altitude was a thing beyond the Florida flatland?), Jimmy Johns didn’t deliver to my apartment, and Mitch McConnell had slithered off to a secret closet in order to ruin health care for poor people. I didn’t even know turtles could read, let alone write legislation!
But… my first week of work rolls around, and I start to find my footing. I make it on the Metro, answer some phone calls, and meet my Congressman, the amazing #baldveganrep himself, Ted Deutch (D-FL22). It was absolutely sensational to see our office run like clockwork and to actually run around the underground tunnels of the House and Senate getting signatures and scheming to find Bernie Sanders.
In all sincerity, my time in Congressman Deutch’s office truly reaffirmed my passion for representation in government. Carrying the cosponsor sheet calling on Iran to release our constituent Bob Levinson, the longest held US hostage in history, I felt the weight of the paper increase as I realized the weight of my actions for the Levinson family back home. Later writing the questions many congressmen asked of Levinson’s son in a MENA Subcommittee hearing, I felt an intense sense of respect for how well our government can really run when led by people with the best intentions in mind.
A similar sense of pride filled my heart at a rally against the abhorrent AHCA outside the Capitol steps. We chanted, we marched, and we actually managed to kill the bill that would have ultimately killed thousands in our country. Something Cory Booker said at that rally really stuck out to me after that gut-wrenching vote: “The power of the people is greater than the people in power.” The constituent calls, emails, visits, and rallies, which I was so privileged to encounter this summer, truly fuel the fire of change! Realizing this, I finally found the confidence in our democratic system I really needed.
Then perhaps the most important thing I learned on the Hill in six short weeks was that I am extremely well-represented by people that I truly trust. The staffers in my district’s office pump out responses to every constituent concern, the congressman responds to community crises, and the chief-of-staff is absolutely full of heart. Their intentions, like those of many other representatives and senators I encountered – including the stellar ladies Lois Frankel, Nancy Pelosi, Susan Collins, and Elizabeth Warren – are truly sincere and have the masses in mind. Accordingly, I believe that John McCain’s game-changing vote was a matter of good intentions and realization that will hopefully extend to his colleagues in the foreseeable future.
For now, though, we must fight to challenge and expose the bad intentions of those in power who pander to the wealthiest one percent for reelection. And from my inspiring time on the Hill, I have no doubt our generation will do just that.