By Jon Lueth
I grew up in the small town of Sparta, Illinois with a total population of between 4000 and 5000 people (the number has fluxed throughout my life). After high school I went to Drake University which has a student population of approximately 3500 undergraduate students, and approximately 5000 total students. The farthest west I’ve ever traveled is the western edge of Nebraska, the farthest east is the middle of Ohio, and the farthest south is Tennessee. In other words, I’ve simply never had an opportunity to leave the Midwest, until now. With that in mind it’s not at all difficult to imagine a large spectrum of expectations for this trip, and all of them come attached to a hope that things are as good, and even better, then I could ever imagine. I expect to overwhelmed at points, I expect to be underwhelmed at points, but at the end of it all I truly expect to learn a lot.
I want to learn about the culture of Washington D.C. and get a firsthand look at how people, both in and out of the political workforce, interact and function in the area. I expect that this will be the easiest to achieve as it quite literally requires me to simply go to D.C., so check that one off of the list. Beyond this basic goal of learning more about life outside of the Midwest, and more importantly learning about life inside of D.C., I hope to learn more about not only how to best network with people of a variety of backgrounds, but how to properly exercise and utilize those networks. As Drake students, I would say that we have been given numerous networking opportunities, and I know I personally have already built a decent sized political network of my own in the past four years. However, I never really needed to utilize that network for myself, instead only ever using it as a means of reaching out to promote whatever political campaign I happened to be working on at the time. Thus, learning the variety of ways to tap into my own network, as well as others, is certainly at the top of my goals and expectations for this trip, as one of the key elements of this trip is meeting a large variety of people from a large variety organizations, backgrounds, workplaces, etc.
Finally, as a means of not rambling on too much, I would say another of my major expectations (and hopes) is an honest representation of the President we will see for the next four years. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend President-Elect Trump’s latest stop in Des Moines during his “Victory Tour” and it was certainly a unique experience. One thing that made it such a unique experience though was getting to see how Trump acted, and reacted to the crowd. Yes, he was loud and proud, but there also appeared to be an element of true political prowess to him that I had never before seen. He didn’t go into excruciating detail but he did speak on several actual issues he hopes to address as President ranging from the active duty military, to the VA, to national security. He only briefly mentioned his “Wall” and seemingly did so only to appease those in the crowd who had been yelling out for him to mention it. I hope to see more of this from the President-elect on Inauguration day. I expect, and hope, that he will address more serious issues that he plans to work on during his tenure. As I said at the start of this paragraph, I expect to see the real President Trump, not just the showman that got him here.