There is something truly serial about being in Washington, D.C. People who have been to Due West understand what it’s like to live in a town that seems to be in a bubble of sorts. Washington is the same way; arguably, even more so. Things can go on outside of the district lines and life in the city just keeps on moving. Every day thousands of people scour this city with a passion. Many of those people are directly impacting the lives of millions of Americans just by going to work. People in D.C. do EVERYTHING. They lobby, legislate (sometimes, I think…), write, critique, speak out, develop new ideas, influence new people, and create new things every single day like clockwork. It is utterly amazing that there can be so much focus and drive amid what many people see as chaos.
This week, the first of a two-week program, has been extremely eye-opening. After going through the Erskine in Columbia program a year and a half ago, I was utterly amazed by the differences in state and national politics. Some people we’ve talked to have been in both, and they notice a difference too. Congressman Jeff Duncan pointed out that while in the South Carolina State House most of the time the majority of representatives were in session and in the House Chambers. As you presented your argument, you could see people around the room reacting to it. In Washington, most of the time there are only a handful of Congressman in the room when someone’s talking, if that. There is a lack of personal connection. Perhaps that’s why there is so much division in politics today. It wouldn’t hurt both sides of the aisle to get to know one another a little better.
Here’s a more detailed list of where we’ve been this week:
Sunday June 3
PM: Arrival/Move In/Orientation
7pm Kick-Off Dinner: Living/Working in DC, a story
Monday June 4
12:30pm National Press Club Luncheon
7:00pm DINNER: Banana Café http://www.bananacafedc.com/home.htm
Tuesday June 5
9am Cam Savage, National Republican Senatorial Committee, http://www.nrsc.org/
10:30am Simon Rosenberg, http://ndn.org/about/staff/simon-rosenberg
New Democratic Network, http://ndn.org/
12:00pm The Center for Responsive Politics, http://www.opensecrets.org/
2:30pm Kevin A. Warner, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, http://www.dscc.org/
6:00pm Sticky Rice, http://www.stickyricedc.com/
Wednesday June 6
10am Sen. Jim DeMint, http://www.demint.senate.gov/public/
11:00amCongressman James E. Clyburn, http://clyburn.house.gov/
Assistant Democratic Leader, US House of Representatives
2pm Mike McCurry http://www.psw-inc.com/mccurry.php
Public Strategies Washington, Inc.
3:30pmThe Office of Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03), http://jeffduncan.house.gov/
6pm Dinner: Café 8, http://www.cafe8dc.com/
Thursday June 7
9am Sally Steenland, http://www.americanprogress.org/experts/SteenlandSally.html Center for American Progress, http://www.americanprogress.org/
11am British Embassy [Picture IDS required], Mr. Scott Furssedonn, http://ukinusa.fco.gov.uk/en/
4:00pm Andrew Sullivan, The Dish, http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/
The Newsweek/Daily Beast 6pm Dinner: Ethiopic, http://www.ethiopicrestaurant.com/Home.html
Friday June 8
9am James Assey, Executive Vice President National Cable & Telecommunications Association http://www.ncta.com/Biography/Biography/JamesAssey.aspx
New York Times
1pm Ed Bolen, Senior Policy Analyst, http://www.cbpp.org/about/index.cfm?fa=view&id=193 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, http://www.cbpp.org/
3pm National Public Radio, http://www.npr.org/
It’s been a very busy week! But every second of it has been a blast. Just in the first week of this program I’ve seen several things that I will need to remind myself of as I enter the political field:
- It’s very easy to begin doubting yourself, especially your faith, if you are not 100% sure of your convictions. Those are things you need to figure out BEFORE you get into politics. Everyone here (and in Columbia) has an opinion. Most of them are getting paid a lot of money to convince very stubborn people of their opinion. Bottom line: they know their stuff, so you have to as well.
- Finding a community of believers and friends is very important. D.C. can be a lonely city when you don’t have someone to share it with. While there are a lot of singles here that do fine, I’m sure, it adds to your support and eases your mind to congregate with others. Especially with regards to spiritual matters, a community of believers is key to keeping your faith strong.
- Slowing down to remember where you are, what you’re doing, and who you’re serving. As Dylan said, “we gotta serve somebody” and that becomes especially true in D.C. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what you’re focused on right now and loose sight of the bigger picture. When you’re in D.C., you are in the heart of the most powerful nation in the history of mankind. That is a daunting proposition to think about when you really sit back to ponder it. Don’t wake up one day years after you’ve been living in D.C. (or any place for that matter) and ask yourself, “where am I? what’s going on around me?” If you’re in D.C., just sit back and look at the Capital building for a few minutes and really think about what goes on there. It’s incredible.
Sitting on the roof of the Dellenback Center and looking over at the Capital dome I can’t get this question out of my mind: “what does it feel like to work there?” I know politics is what I want to do. David Brooks spoke about the need to stay optimistic about America’s future and get involved in politics at our NPR meeting today. That really hit me. Our generation (my generation) HATES politics! Everyone wants to be a Bono. Everyone wants to start an NGO. No one wants to run for public office. That’s a problem. Politics is still, even in America today, the best way to really change something in the world.
What does that pessimism that our generation has mean? Who knows. Maybe, just maybe, people are stumbling on to the truth about the human condition. If that’s the case, that’s a good sign that things will get better. When people realize we’re all fallen, we’re all sinful, and that means we all have problems, we can move past the acceptance phase and begin doing something about those problems. As a Christian, if people are stumbling onto the idea of the human condition, I will stay optimistic about the future.
What is my next move? I really don’t know. I’d like to go to law school, I’d like to go to the Trinity Forum Academy, I’d like to intern with Simon Rosenberg at the New Democratic Network or Mike McCurry at Public Strategies Washington or Sally Streenland at the Center for American Progress or Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast, I’d like to run for office, I’d like to be a lawyer, I’d like to travel the world, I’d like to get married, I’d like to start a think tank or an NGO. As far as what I will actually do, I don’t know. All I can say is, thank goodness God does.