Sunday, June 12, 2011

Political Culture in Washington

As I get more comfortable in the office where I intern, I am making some important observations about the workings of politics. In some ways the things are not as bad as people think when looking in from the outside, and in other ways, they are worse. The reality is that the men and women that work in government are just like the rest of us, and they are in some cases just as frustrated with the political situation as those that feel disenchanted with the stalemate politics in government.

Every day I get new proof that working in congress is not any different than working anywhere else. There are the usual day to day activities of doing the same work that you did not finish yesterday and continuing the same work tomorrow and yes there is a time to be serious and a time to be funny. I am learning a great deal about the decision making process, and all the different channels involved in getting your message across. I had never considered the true nature of voting, deciding how to vote, deciding what to support and what not to support, and all the choices of who gets heard and who does not get a chance to voice his or her opinion.

There are interesting and complicated debates that leave everybody wondering about the merits of their arguments, but at the end of the day there is a certain level of consensus.

The most important lesson that I have learned so far is that most of the time it is the small picture that draws attention, and the immediate effects of the policies that are put forth. This is understandable, since everybody is under pressure to show progress and since there is a high level of transparency in government, and everybody has to show some kind of results. However, I have to say that I hoped that once in a while not just the present, but also the future impacts of policies would be taken into consideration.

During my free time at home, I have been rereading the Congress chapter of my Political Science textbook just to refresh my mind of what I learned about the United States Congress so that I can have a better idea of what everybody talks about in the office. I have the say that the theories in the textbook pretty well match up with the reality, and when they do not match up exactly, they act as the textbook predicts. The reality is that at the end of the day it is all politics, which is all about who gets what and how. I wish it was different than that, but it is not. In order to make a real difference there has to be serious reforms in the process of governance in America.

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