Fate has thrown a curve ball at this j-term, right off the bat. The government shutdown shows no signs of abating, and will likely continue for a significant portion of the time we are in Washington D.C. even in the best of circumstances. However, should a compromise be reached, we will be in the best place in the world to watch it happen, and witness firsthand the bipartisanship that we are nominally in Washington to examine.
While I have been in Washington before, for Model UN, I have never spent an extended period of time in the city. Beyond being present at a significant event of our time, this J-Term will ideally provide an opportunity to observe the force of partisanship in the everyday life of our elected officials. Of particular interest to me is how being a political minority affects the behavior and outlook of Republican officeholders and staff.
I am fascinated by the methods of communication and negotiation between the two major parties, and how each party’s perception of the motivation of its opposite number differs from how each party perceives itself. I will look forward to seeing firsthand if the Democratic party is still a group interest party as described by Grossman and Hopkins, or if its increasingly visible progressive wing is the fore-runner of an ideological party similar to today’s Republicans. In a similar vein, I look forward to learning how flexible each party is willing to be in order to obtain electoral supremacy, and how each party plans to continue competing in our changing electoral landscape. In keeping with the interests above, and their importance to the formulation of policy and ideology, I hope to be exposed to think tanks and interest groups of both left and right. I am fascinated by the interplay of ideology with the research each institution carries out.
However, I am more than a politics student, and as such I hope to witness firsthand the work of advocacy and government relations, especially in healthcare-related industries. Healthcare and related programs alone account for a quarter of the total federal budget. If at all possible, I hope to learn more about how this massive block of resources is managed, and how policy affecting its distribution is made. Similarly, the role of the government in the regulatory sense is also substantial, and I hope to learn more of the methods and motives behind federal regulation in all areas but especially insurance and drug regulation.
Networking with individuals affiliated with this field is a necessary part of learning the details about the profession, and I hope that multiple opportunities to do so will occur. This will provide opportunities to improve my ability to dress appropriately to circumstance, and experience on how to comport myself at such events in the future.
In other words, I hope to absorb information like a sponge. I expect to be challenged and exposed to myriad ideas, organizations, and individuals. From this I expect to learn a great deal about government, politics, and the supporting industries that they create. And I hope that I will find opportunities for the upcoming caucus season.
Let’s learn like our livelihoods depend on it!