Political Culture

Week 1

Within the first few days of my internship in a congressional district office, I was able to ascertain the general culture of the office and it’s role in the larger political apparatus. Most of the interactions between myself and the staffers are informal as it is a very young office with the oldest staffer being about 32. In this informal yet results driven environment, it was easy to see that these staffers truly cared about the constituents they worked for and were deeply invested in their cases. While the leadership structure within the office isn’t constantly being asserted, all the staffers and interns know that the Congressman is their main leader and his chief of staff along with his district director follow behind. This leadership structure plays into the young and informal culture of the office but I’d argue that, from my experiences thus far, it allows the staffers and interns much more latitude in getting their work done and caring for constituents. If there was a overbearing leader in the office, constantly reminding the staffers that they must always act upon certain directives, staffers and interns would not show the same passion and rigor they currently bring in their daily assignments. Another interesting curveball thrown into the mix of this culture is the fact that everyone in the office could be forced to look for new jobs every two years; reelection is rarely guaranteed in today’s political climate. While reelection must loom large in the minds of these young, aspiring professionals, I have yet to see it be invoked as the driving force behind why staffers take the time to thoughtfully get the job done. There seems to be a certain level of care and investment in the community that extends beyond political ups and downs. While everyone hopes to have a job with the same congressman in two years, these staffers show an ardent, politically independent interest in those that they serve. This kind of culture was not one I expected in today’s politics and it’s far from Bismarck’s realpolitik ideology. I hope that what I’ve witnessed is sustained throughout my time here – even as election day and upcoming challengers heat up in the next few weeks.

One thought on “Political Culture

  • June 13, 2019 at 11:22 am

    Sounds like a lively place. Seems that the hands-off (more laissez-faire?) approach is a strength of the culture; that the leaders allowing their staff to do the work is a strength. Do you think that this more hands-off approach is a result of the individuals who hold leadership roles (including the congressman) or is it somehow/somewhat related to the nature of the work, the ‘industry’ so to speak? Might be interesting to consider. Do make certain to attend to the required number of elements in each prompt.

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