A meeting with constituents

By Annie Hayes

Today we had the privilege of meeting with our U.S. Representative from Iowa’s third congressional district, David Young (R). Between wrapping up a meeting and heading to the floor of the House of Representatives to add an amendment to a bill being considered, Young took some time from his busy schedule and spoke with us about his background and what he does on a day-to-day basis working on behalf of his constituents, including the students of Drake University.

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We met with Rep. Young at the Cannon House Office Building in the Veterans Affairs room, where he explained to the group how he goes about conducting his work on Capitol Hill and back at home in his district. I found the way he discussed his attitude toward working with colleagues from across the aisle very refreshing in an era of increased partisanship and divisiveness within Congress. Working with others who may have different world views than their own should not deter members from doing their jobs.

Young took pride in the fact that he actively seeks to work with members from the other party even when he doesn’t really need to do so. He also pointed out how important it is for elected officials not to make too many promises while campaigning, because things do not get done in Washington like many wish they would. There are so many different political realities that cannot be anticipated, which is why he has only made three promises he knows he can keep his word on. One major promise he makes is that every month he will travel to all 16 counties he represents back in Iowa and speak with his constituents, similar to Senator Chuck Grassley’s infamous 99 county tour he completes every year.

While admiring Young’s passion and relentless energy he puts into serving his district to the best of his ability, my mind couldn’t help but wander to the assumption that all of this is motivated by possibly winning votes for reelection. This took me back to the discussion we had today with Sarah Binder of The Brookings Institution, where she referenced David Mayhew’s work regarding the electoral incentive members of Congress have in doing things like Rep. Young did today in meeting with us. Why would a representative or senator turn down the opportunity to do a favor for their constituents? Well they wouldn’t if they are serious about reelection.

Regardless of Congressman David Young’s reason for meeting with us today, the fact that he took time to speak to us really made me appreciate his willingness to do so, and the experience was absolutely incredible! Even if you know that electoral incentives do drive members of Congress most of the time, take advantage of it! Your representative or senator are there to serve you, and you shouldn’t let them forget that! Use that to your advantage, such as getting hooked up with a couple of inauguration tickets! (Shout out to Young’s office for the tickets!)

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Speaking to Congressman David Young before he had to run over to the floor of the House! Photo credit: Jack Hellie

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