Becoming frenemies during congressional debate

By Jade Sells

“I learned some valuable lessons about the legislative process, the importance of bipartisan cooperation and the wisdom of taking small steps to get a big job done” — Hillary Clinton

As a part of our simulation here at The Washington Center, participants were assigned to represent a member of Congress and their views and values. Our class was then expected to draft a resolution regarding immigration, healthcare, and/or the federal budget while representing our respective member. A daunting task, I know.

After having decided on the general goals of our proposed resolution, we then had to put our thoughts into writing. All the while, considering what our member would want included and how they would react to other inclusions. This became extremely difficult in a variety of ways.

Not only did this force us to separate ourselves from our own political views and biases, we then assumed a completely different set of views that may or may not align with our own. Considering and constructing legislation from a mind that is not your own proved to be no simple task.

For hours, we argued with people we considered our friends. It became harder and harder to see that Senator Rand Paul was actually Austin and Representative Emanuel Clever was Kati. We assumed the roles of these Congress people and fought for and against issues not in our own interest, but in that of our member. We fought back urges of our owgroupn agendas and qualified our statements with “Senator Dina Titus would argue” to separate ourselves from the people we were representing.

The process was grueling. Arguing back and forth about what we wanted and what we did not support. Making decisions on what would be truly important to our member and what could be sacrificed in the name of bipartisanship. We tallied and re-tallied votes and considered and debated about how to sway Republican or Democratic members. After hours of debating, we finally came to a bipartisan resolution. The resolution passed with a majority vote within our committee.

As we packed up our belongings, we shrugged off the burdens and views of the member we had become. We tried to forget about the things our friends had said and remember that they were indeed, our friends.

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