Well, here I am in Washington, DC, and I couldn’t be having a better time! I got here about 2.5 weeks ago and until now have not had a moment to myself to sit and think. I am working on religion in the domestic policy department at a think tank, which has been an absolute blessing. I’m researching religious arguments for limited government in addition to reading about court cases relating to religious liberty. It’s kinda making me sad, as with every case I see how the courts seem to be taking away more and more religious freedom, slowly but surely . . . I’m not going to write about that now, but if you have thoughts on the issue, I’d love it if you would email me!
Anyway, this think tank has provided its 60 interns with so many opportunities. First of all, we work with experts in various fields and hear first-hand from them. Many members of Congress and appointed officials come through the building, imparting their wisdom and answering our questions about anything and everything. And we’ve been given lots of books to read, of which I can only possibly tackle a few! Yesterday we toured the Capitol, plus we’ll be going on tours of the Pentagon, the White House, and the Supreme Court soon. Harvard also has numerous opportunities with its Summer in Washington program—yesterday a group of Harvard students got to meet privately with Chief Justice John Roberts and I must confess that I am extremely jealous of them!
In my free time, I’ve attended as many BBQs as possible, visited a lot of the museums (thank you, Smithsonian, for being free!), gone paddle-boating next to the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument, and enjoyed concerts on the Capitol steps. It’s finally getting really hot and humid here and I’m finding it more and more enticing to sit inside by the air conditioner, something that I’d always hated growing up. But that means that I can start working on my thesis, which every now and then I remember that I have to start researching and writing . . .
Being in this environment has gotten me started thinking about my future AGAIN. This upcoming year I’ll be a senior, which is when the pressure of making some sort of career decision will really kick in. I study Linguistics, but I’m not too certain that I want to pursue a career in that field anymore. Working at a think tank is certainly appealing, especially at one where everyone more or less holds the same values and principles that I consider most important. The policy side of things seems pretty manageable, especially since you can advocate for or write about this or that bill based on your ideological views. But being right on Capitol Hill, I see all the power-hungry people, competing for jobs in congressional offices and doing what it takes to move up the ladder. I hear about this or that senator, who I thought shared the same values as I do, voting for something I don’t support. Being an elected official carries a certain prestige, and it’s definitely appealing to be able to write and work on passing legislation, but I have to wonder how possible it is to maintain modesty in behavior as a politician. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—modesty is not just about how you dress, but it’s also about how you behave. I wish I could say that there are elected politicians out there who stick to their principles, who vote for what they believe in regardless of the circumstances, but it seems like most politicians have one thing on their minds: getting reelected. I have a few politicians in mind, including Sens. Brownback and Santorum, both of whom spoke a forum on religious liberty I attended yesterday on Capitol Hill, but I’m trying to think of others.
Am I right in being so cynical about the political world? Can I become a politician and maintain my dignity (not to mention my faith, a family, etc. etc.)? Which politicians do you admire for their modesty or for other reasons?
I’d love some words of encouragement or truth from those in the know or even those who just have opinions!