By: Maddie Miller
When considering everything I want to get out of the trip, it comes to my attention that I am not entirely sure what to expect of Washington, D.C. I have never been to D.C. before and I want to be able to walk away from this experience having seen numerous national landmarks, while gaining insight into the political process as we have access to during this experience.
In considering what I really want to get out of this experience, as it is during the inauguration, I want to first take into account the truly historic moment our country is in. No matter my feelings for the current president-elect, this notes a change in our nation under a new government regime. As someone who has paid attention to politics, being a first-time presidential voter I felt the immense pressures of this election season. Much of the speech used by candidates was negative, accusatory, and divisive. This type of rhetoric divided parties as they tried to sort out what each party’s platform stood for. As President-Elect Trump has received outright criticism from within the Republican party, I think that I am hoping this speech is accessible and focuses on unity.
Two of the public concerns that I have really taken an interest in the past few years has been restorative justice and healthcare. With the amount of recidivism being unusually high within the United States, there is a major call for reform. Through courses I’ve taken such as Crime and Punishment, or Law & Order the systems that are currently in place have started to highlight the benefits of restorative justice in working to create a productive means for rehabilitating criminals. Healthcare has been a hotly discussed issue within America, particularly in the past ten years. There are critiques of the current system, and I am interested in how popular portions of the current policy, such as people not being denied coverage due to preexisting conditions, plays out within the new administration.
While on this trip, academically, I want to learn more about Washington’s role within the political process. How are the various actors truly interacting with each other and how does the environment of this particular city affect that? While I recognize conceptually what is being done in Washington, I would like to be able to walk away from this trip having learned who the actors are who participate in different decision-making aspects of the government, the impact that average citizens have on Capitol Hill, and the strengths and weaknesses of the operational government.
Professionally, I would like to gain a more diverse network that more accurately matches my current career goals. When entering college I originally thought that I wanted to attend law school following graduation. My plans have changed as I have gained an interest in public policy and lobbying, and how I see myself participating in the political system.
I am really looking forward to this trip for the professional and personal growth within politics.