Turnover in The Capital

By Taylor Sellers

Every voting citizen knows about the election cycles of the politicians in the House and Senate. The presidential campaigns flood the news every four years. Turnover is a natural effect of the political fluctuation in the country. What many outside of Washington do not know, however, is just how many people lose their jobs when their higher ups are no longer in their political favor.

Many names that aren’t in the news are federally employed as a result of a political appointment. As we have learned from a few of our Drake alums in D.C., a new president means they’re out of a job, too.

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Drake in DC students outside of the CFTC. Photo by Jack Hellie

The issue with this is that people with specialized knowledge of intricate issues are suddenly pushed out. The department has to reteach the same background material and techniques to a new person. As we learned at the CFTC with Drake alum Cory Claussen, that can require a lot of knowledge on policy that most people don’t have.
Those who are pushed out suddenly find themselves with very specific knowledge and little options to work to their full capacity on that same issue. Although the work may be important and fulfilling, is certainly a deterrent for some that they will be on the job hunt again in the near future.

Those in D.C. that we have spoken to seemed to have little issue with the loss of their job this month. Cory Claussen at the CTFC claimed that it was normal in the culture of D.C. to have a different job every two years or less.

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Lanon Baccam of the USDA speaking to Drake students. Photo by Jack Hellie

When we visited the USDA today, we encountered the same type of attitude. Lanon Baccam, a USDA Deputy Undersecretary, spoke about the loss of his job, telling us he was going to enjoy the time immediately after his removal by traveling. Tom Vilsack, political appointee and Secretary of the USDA, was actually saying his farewells to the USDA staff when we visited the office today.

Political appointments make D.C. a city like no other. Things are always changing. Though in line with the ideology of being able to keep government as close to the whims of the people as possible, it is easy to forget that the people we decide to get rid of are people, too. Working for the government in Washington D.C. is not for the faint of heart, and involves an adaptability unlike anything seen in Des Moines.

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One thought on “Turnover in The Capital

  1. Pingback: 5 Things I Like and Dislike: The Washington D.C. Experience | Drake in D.C.

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