This week I have been blessed with the opportunity to enjoy our Independence Day in the United States Capital. My 4th of July began by waking up bright and early at 11:00 AM, from there I made the long 20 feet trek from my bed to the kitchen and fried up an egg and some ham alongside a bagel, the real breakfast of champions. From my 5th floor palace, I wandered down to room 106 to adventure with the boys of 106. The boys and I wandered to our local McDonalds to enjoy some classic American food and then preceded to the capital to join one of my friends from high school to watch the concert and fireworks. Although we ended up going home before returning to watch the fireworks, we adventured around the capital and explored the best spots while enjoying the not as bad as Arizona, but still prevalent July sun.
One of the best perks of working on the hill is getting to enjoy the 4th of July in our nation’s Capital from the steps of the US Capitol, it was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that few have had the pleasure to enjoy, and I count myself lucky to be a part of the club. Even better is we were able to take our friends along to enjoy the view of legends such as Jimmy Buffet, the Temptations, and the voice of our host John Stamos. The celebration was wonderful and while I proudly consider myself a patriot, there are times where I am frustrated with the choices that our leaders make and the values we sometimes seem to promote and express to the world. Sitting just mere feet away from where some of the greatest leaders in US history have sat and debated the biggest issues facing our country and watching the ultimate display of US pride helped to remind that even though when we are going through a rough time it’s a pleasure to live in the US and sit alongside friends to enjoy a night of unity and celebration.
This 4th of July work week was slow yet productive, as I finished all the projects I had been working on over the past few weeks. It helped that the interns outnumbered the amount of staff in my office every day we were there this week. Our Chief of Staff fought hard to convince the Congressman to close the office the whole week, as our Legislative Director, Communications Director, one of our Legislative Assistants, and one of our Senior Policy Directors took the whole week off, furthermore our other Senior Policy Director and our scheduler took Thursday and Friday off, still no success. Two of the interns don’t come in on Fridays so I was the king of the office today and was the only one in our front office for most of today.
This week at work I learned a lot about some of the less talked about parts of politics and policy. Through my slow, yet productive work week I was able to learn a ton about litigation and how it works to promote/stop laws and policies. As most of the Grijalvistas (what our office staff and interns calls themselves) were out of the office, I represented us at numerous briefings put on by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus informing member offices about the litigation with DACA, keeping families together at the border, the legality of Asylum claims, and numerous other vital parts of immigration law. Through my time in DC, I have seen much and learned a ton more about policy and have talked to people from all different viewpoints. While this has been a wonderful experience, it has also somewhat terrified me, I have noticed that our viewpoints cause us to demonize the other side and fall into the harsh cycle of partisan warfare. Working in the State government prior the two-sides disagreed often, but always seemed to get along after debates; working on the hill the rhetoric about the other side from constituents and staff in the halls is hyper hyper-partisan and that frankly is extremely worrying for me. Taking a small step back from politics, the partisan divide has become so focused on identity politics, or the idea of political views being tied closely with who we are as people our race, education levels, areas of origin, and religion. As our views become so intertwined with who we are, is there a way to overcome the ever-growing political divide? As I continue to work these next couple weeks I am anxious to get more closure on this issue and am looking forward to enjoying another day in paradise.