D.C. Energy

Perseverance against all defying odds is the most prominent overarching message in Robert Frost’s poem, “Two Tramps in Mud Time”. Now, not necessarily just against odds, but it reinforces the concept of self-awareness. This theme portrays a story of an individual that routinely gets challenged, even when they are at their peak. However, despite the individual being at their peak, they don’t stoop to the level of the challenger; instead of taking the path of growth.

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.

You know how it is with an April day

When the sun is out and the wind is still,

You’re one month on in the middle of May.

But if you so much as dare to speak,

A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,

A wind comes off a frozen peak,

And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”

 

Personally, this was the most powerful stanza through the entire poem. It advises one to not get ahead of themselves; all the while, absorbing and living in the present. Jumping to conclusions and getting too comfortable may cost you a lot, especially when you lose track of the reality of your immediate surroundings. Once you reach the point of over-confidence, that is when the pillars of the foundation begin to fall.

 

“Out of the wood two hulking tramps
(From sleeping God knows where last night,
But not long since in the lumber camps).
They thought all chopping was theirs of right.
Men of the woods and lumberjacks,
The judged me by their appropriate tool.
Except as a fellow handled an ax
They had no way of knowing a fool.”

This stanza depicts being over-confident, and uninformed assumptions. The narrator explains how they received direct condescending judgments based on zero merits. Yet, the narrator ensured that they did not lower their character, or contribute to the intolerance. Overall, the narrator minded their own business and focused on the quality of their work. The narrator was able to shut down the judgment in an organic manner, simply by focusing on their work. This is a very important lesson that often goes unnoticed, especially in the competitive work field. Essentially, workers don’t want to stay on one level for all the consecutive years of their employable life. This can make the work field very tense, and one that may carry a cloud of skepticism, concern, and a constant need to compete. People who adhere to this mentality typically lose focus on their goals and their work, because they are instead occupied with constantly being the best person in the world. From experience, I have been surrounded by similar energy and it acknowledging it can be very draining and toxic for a person. The toxicity affects not just from the person receiving it, but from the person distributing it as well. When one distributes that sort of energy, they are projecting on their own incompetence and insecurity. Instead of finding ways to personally improve and grow, they re-direct their interests on finding flaws in other people, instead of making an introspective analysis of themselves.

After multiple internships, jobs, and completing an entire summer internship program in the nation’s capital, I can truthfully say that I have avoided adopting that toxic idealistic mindset. Of course, that type of negative energy will be prevalent as long as you are working towards a goal, but not acknowledging it has better benefits. That type of mindset can be draining if invested into, and it takes away from one’s own chance to grow. I can proudly say that I have avoided participating or reciprocating into that negative mentality as I explore more career options and surround myself with a multitude of environments. This has paid-off for obvious reasons! This has allowed me to take full advantage of the opportunities given to me in this internship program and others. My time in D.C. has been emotionally, and professionally rewarding. Working with the Madison Group has taught me a variety of life lessons that I will carry on to my future work and endeavors. From the people I was closest to at the firm, Robb taught me how to always have a point on-hand ready for an argument, Marcus taught me how to close a deal and appeal your goals to people, Marissa taught me how to defend myself and my values even in tough situations, and David taught me to fight for and to never forget the environment or community you came from. Seeing all of these lessons actively applied to their professional careers and not just as an empty statement was refreshing and tied the overall message together almost as a present. Finally, this summer made me appreciate the city as a whole as I had the opportunity to see it in a new light. I made some very drastic life decisions while I was here in D.C. all of which were made due to the environment I was in. Regardless if I decide to relocate here in the future or not, I am going to embody the lessons I learned during my internship and take with me the fast-paced energy that D.C. executes.

 

 

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Increasing Accessibility

Though every activity, outing, and event throughout our time in D.C. has been exciting, none has been as rewarding as the community service group excursion we did on Saturday. The entirety of the ASU Capital Scholars program went to volunteer to a food bank, where we spent a couple of hours packaging and organizing palettes of food to distribute to other food banks and families in the area. Before we began the work, we met up with former ASU alumni and met and discussed with them a bit before we went into the workspace. Volunteering at the food bank was not just a productive and selfless activity for us give back as a group, but it was a great way to bond with one another as well! This was especially because of how high-intensity all of our work was! Whenever we thought that we had finished the work, or were even close to finishing up the palettes we were working on, Cameron, Danielle, and Anthony would come in with their forklifts and give us new palettes. This made us get creative and we were breaking up the work amongst each other in categories. Wholeheartedly, I was very impressed with the strength and stamina we all had to lift and carry some of the crates and boxes filled to the brim with heavy items. Especially as we did not take breaks and were all doing heavy lifting and picking up heavy crates filled with boxes of meats!

 

The event as a whole allowed us to work as a collective group for one of the only times throughout the whole program. We have gone on group excursions where we had to briefly work together, but not at all to the extent that we did at the food bank. Labor work is not as simple as some may think. This is especially true when you are under a time crunch and have more work than preferred. The conditions that come with labor work usually require much more pressure and active thinking. We got a brief taste of these conditions while we were volunteering, and the short shift definitely wore us out. However, it was a minuscule way to thank and give back to the committee that has welcomed us in. Although we were only going to be here for the summer, we are still adding extra traffic and taking advantage of the resources that the city has to offer through a very commodified experience. Our experience of the city during the summer is one of privilege, and it is a reality that we as a group need to reflect on in order to fully comprehend the impact that our work that day truly did. Taking a couple hours out of our day in order to ensure that more families have access to healthy and nutritious foods that they may not otherwise have access to, is the bare minimum we can do to show our gratitude to the people whose city we were guests in.

 

It is necessary to view the intersectional aspect of projects in order to provide a more inclusive experience. Intersectionality has been a recurring theme throughout the week, and it is a message that we as a diverse group of individuals can benefit from holding discourse about. Apart from the reflection on class systems and privilege, I had the opportunity to hear from both Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Both of the conversation topics were regarding inclusion, diversity, and intersectionality. Senator Sanders held a town hall in regards to income inequality for employees of large corporations, where workers shared their stories about their food shortages and trouble with finances despite working for some of the most powerful corporations in the world. Rep. Wasserman Schultz held an intimate discussion about what members of Congress can do to recruit more talent from marginalized communities and to make the interning experience for low-income and students from minority communities more accessible. Increasing accessibility is a way that we can all utilize our privilege in order to reach an intersectional and inclusive community. This was a topic that came up during the food bank as well. There is no reason why uncontrollable circumstances such as socioeconomic status, should prevent students and individuals of all backgrounds from achieving or pursuing their goals.

Why Does This Committee Hearing Line Make Me Feel Like I’m at a One Direction Concert

Upon reading through the book, Essentialism by Greg McKeown, I have been able to connect with some of the major themes and messages from the book. The topics covered in Essentialism, are all ones that make common sense but are not necessarily ones that we implement when we should. Regrettably, there are numerous different messages and concepts from the book that I should have been implementing for a while now. However, sometimes reading a reminder and taking time to analyze it, relate to it, and apply it, is an effective way to fully indulge in the concepts, and decide how and where to best implement to your daily routine. For starters, one of the main themes involves uncommitting. One of my favorite things is feeling busy and even stressed. I thrive under pressure and feel more accomplished once I complete everything off my list. However, taking too much on my plate may not always be wise or even healthy. Uncommitting is about relinquishing our fear of waste. This is not necessarily in a literal sense, but we as humans have the tendency to fully surround ourselves with our projects we’re working on. We invest not only our time and energy but our identity and emotions into any minuscule proposition. At times, this is successful! However, Essentialism serves as a wakeup call to remind us, sometimes it is just not worth it. We will make constant passive excuses about how we’re almost at our end goal, and yet – completion never sees the light of day. Learning how to cut our losses can allow us to invest ourselves into a more tangible and likely resolution, as opposed to one that is unrealistic. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging to oneself that it just simply did not work out. We cannot win all the time but recognizing when from the start can allow us to thrive in other areas better. It does not need to be a large lengthy time project. It can be something as simple as a recipe. Once you ruin the sauce and wasted the majority of your ingredients, cutting your losses may work out better both in terms of finances and emotions!

 

On a more optimistic note, Essentialismtouches on the rewards of progress. It is easy to get caught up in the large scale picture of our goals. Instead of viewing life and the end goal as one where you climb up the ladder, slowly but surely, we focus too much on what is at the top. We can beat ourselves up and not feel accomplished enough, but fail to remember that the road to success is lengthy and it surely will not be reached overnight. Instead, we need to acknowledge, respect, and celebrate our smaller successes! Every step is progress, and although it does not mean we’re exactly finished, you are closer than where you were before. This is a theme that I have begun implementing in my own life as I have matured more throughout college. Throughout high school and even during the beginning of college, it was frustrating how slow time moved. Not in the sense of literal time, but I wanted to be knocking out projects and goals to just reach my end goals faster. This did not allow me to take full advantage of the experiences that came with these small wins, nor did it allow me to fully learn and grow from my actions. I was not able to advance and grow as an individual because I was not observing and analyzing my surroundings. There is a natural sense of urgency I think all students have, but remembering that we have our whole lives ahead of us is rewarding. Celebrating the little things can make time go faster, and while experiencing a truer learning opportunity as well.

 

Among the lines of learning, this week I really got a taste for what it means to be prepared on Capitol Hill. I learned everything I was not sure about regarding unpredictability. Without a doubt, this was the weirdest week in terms of turnout for committees. A committee I had to go to involving a topic that gets heard every other week, and never has high turnout, all of a sudden received one of the highest turnouts of the entire session. People were comparing the turnout of the session to that of the Zuckerberg hearing! The turnout and lines were so high, that staff ended up handing out tickets to enter the committee hearing. Luckily I’m a morning person and like getting to the hill fairly early, and was able to secure a spot in the back row. That day seemed like a success, but the hearing ended up surpassing 4 hours, and I had to run to the Senate for another hearing that regularly receives high turnout. Unfortunately, I did not make the cut off for that one but did get to talk with journalists from some smaller publishers that I casually read from time to time. It was very exciting, but I made sure to be nonchalant about it! Additionally, I attended a panel at the Atlantic Council, regarding the Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) election win in Mexico. As someone who is Mexican, and visits family in Mexico weekly, I have been interested in Mexican politics my whole life. You cannot compare Mexican politics to American politics, and it was refreshing to see similar viewpoints in the panel. They discussed the outcomes of the election with NAFTA, the pragmatism that both the U.S. and Mexico will likely take due to the upcoming mid-term elections, and the policy areas that AMLO should focus on. It was great hearing from a diverse range of experts, and professors that were able to experience the election as it occurred in Mexico. It definitely makes me want to continue searching for more Mexico (and maybe Latin America as a whole) related speaking events!

Celebrate Like it’s 1776

The 4thof July is a holiday meant to bring the country together in celebration of the values that exist within a democracy. However, with the current political climate, it was not as black and white as it has been in previous years. This is not necessarily a negative aspect, but an indicator of the progression of our country and conflict amongst prevalent ideologies. I saw various opinion pieces stating that in comparison to previous years, the celebratory feeling was not as high, and many felt guilty planning their celebrations. Personally, I fully believe that this sort of discourse is necessary, especially during a time where political scientists across the board believe that there has never been an era like the one we are currently in. Some stated that they felt as if the administration and everyone celebrating (including themselves) were pushing prominent problems under the rug. Recently, I volunteered at the Families Belong Together march, and I too felt like I did not deserve to enjoy the holiday of freedom and independence when we are currently at the peak of a family separation issue. Knowing that people back in my border-town community had separated families, and were not equally enjoying the holiday, was prominently on my mind. Coming from a family that constantly discussed politics during dinner, family gatherings, and holidays, I don’t think there’s a need to pause discourse in order to celebrate. It is completely plausible to be able to critique and have a conversation surrounding the celebrations of the 4thof July. That is not anti-American, and especially not against any American values.

Reading the various opinion pieces and hearing the sentiments from some of my peers, made me evaluate the direction that our country is heading towards. Becoming civically engaged year-round was the mission-statement of a non-profit I was previously Executive Director for, so I was very intrigued to see the discussion continue, even during a day meant for unification. So on the 4th, I joined the majority of the members of our program on the steps of Capitol Hill, to watch the Capitol Hill concert, and the fireworks. We were extremely grateful that members of our program Rachel, Cameron, and Ahjahna offered to escort us as private-guests to the staff area of the concert and firework viewing area. It was absolutely a once in a lifetime opportunity, and undoubtedly one of the best bonding moments for our program! I love the energy our program brings when we’re with one another, and how our personalities complement one another! This is one of the reasons why, although we are all essentially living our own journey in D.C., we still all make the effort to hang out with one another outside of pre-coordinated events. Wholeheartedly, I can’t think of a better group of people to watch the Beach Boys, Pentatonix, and rave over John Stamos with! A Capitol Fourth was the coolest experience, and literally, the only place to spend the 4thof July in D.C. as an intern. By far it was the greatest time outside of work during this trip!

This week I learned how much D.C. truly does have a place for everyone. As I was doing personal work, I began searching for a place to do it at. I am the type of person that needs to be in an active working environment to be able to do my work, so seeing other people work keeps me on track. I usually go to my local coffee shop or Starbucks at home, and here at Woodley Park Starbucks is a 2-minute walk, so it’s been extremely convenient. However, I am a bit of a coffee addict and semi-snob, so I love exploring new places that are not chains. I was able to find a local coffee/book café that carried books on different political perspectives and in different languages. They even had activist books for children! As a former pre-school teacher, and someone obsessed with her nieces and nephews, I’ve been sending pictures to my family about which bilingual books I should get for my nieces and nephews. Additionally, I learned that speaking events and other community activities are very prominent in the local coffee shops all across D.C., which isn’t exactly as common in Arizona! It happens, but usually to a much lesser degree, and not necessarily on politics. I knew they occurred in other areas, but I love that they can also be held at a place where I already often go to. Overall, this holiday week, I reflected a lot on the importance of discourse. Especially discourse from perspectives that have not had the privilege to have media or mainstream attention. Of course, this is largely due to volunteering at the Families Belong Together march and protest, but also from discovering this new coffee shop/bookstore. They had a history section, and it not only had your average history books, but books reflecting on the implications historic moments had on marginalized groups or communities whose impact were not necessarily mainstream when historic events occurred. As a lover of academia, I feel that it is especially important to touch on and learn about these perspectives that may not necessarily interpret history in the way that mainstream education defines it as. It is our responsibility to learn and grow on our own and to seek out what makes us uncomfortable in order to properly learn. There really has been no better week than that of the 4thof July to learn about the experiences that other Americans from different backgrounds, have had throughout the journey of independence and establishing democracy.

Life is Like the Super Bowl but With Less Viewers

A setback is only a setback, if you choose to view it as one. This was the mindset that one of the leaders in my goal profession held, during a recent interview. I was curious about what set their journey apart from that of others in the field. The linear trajectory that seems so obvious, clear, and practically unmistakable. Yet, the approach each individual takes to this common plan can mean the world of difference. When I began speaking to this individual about their path and life course, I was expecting an answer completely different than what I actually received. I was expecting to hear about the downfalls, I was expecting to hear about struggles, challenges, and essentially – overall not the best moments in their life. However, I got the complete opposite of that. This does not mean that the individual I spoke with did not have serious challenges and struggles. The difference between the answers I was anticipating and the answers I received, were the way they were meant to be perceived.

The individual I spoke with played football in college. Safety. In football, as in many sports, you cannot dwell on a mistake or an error. You must be proactive immediately, if not, you risk the loss of opportunity. Dwelling on such a miniscule error like fumbling the ball, an action that will take-up less than a minute of clock time during a 60-minute game, is a rookie action when looking at the grand scheme of things. Essentially, the team that fumbled the ball will eventually get the ball back, and if they lose, they will have another game. If there is enough time to recover the ball before it has to get punted back to the opposite team, the team and individuals must begin actively coming up and implementing solutions to get the ball back. As long as the ball is in your possession, you have the advantage. The person I interviewed viewed life, career opportunities, and life situations – like a game of football. You must look forward, be competitive, and always stay alert. You cannot keep committing the same mistakes, because other teams will catch on and try to force you to commit those mistakes again. The individual I spoke with talked about the loss of their job at a young age. Their boss did an action that cost most people in the office their job. Quitting politics as a whole because there was a new situation was not a feasible choice, or even realistic for the individual I spoke with. Instead, my interviewee took it as a complete learning experience. Upon our conversation, we realized that we had similar learning styles. We both learned from our own, and other people’s mistakes. Being observant and aware of your surroundings can allow you to skip steps, and avoid preventable errors. Mistakes that may seem so trivial but actually define people’s life trajectories and choices. It’s a matter of control. Entrepreneurship and always wanting to be in charge and responsible for yourself. These were the driving mechanisms that the person I interviewed based their drive upon. Who wants to be doing something they don’t want to do? No one wants to be the team member responsible for fumbling the ball, but everyonewants to be the team member that was able to recover the ball. Essentially, their setbacks and challenges were not perceived as such to them. They advised that if you viewed your errors and tough situations as challenges as opposed to learning opportunities – you would not be able to fully learn and avoid that error in the future. The individual I spoke with has based their entire life on accomplishments, successes, and historic achievements. These were all tokens that could only be achieved by an individual with drive. Not a fluke or passive group attempt. It had to be genuine, and not forced. I will admit, it was not at all the response I was expecting to my original question, but it was much more insightful and stayed true to their message of perseverance. The moment you start viewing tough situations as challenges and setbacks, as opposed to taking it as a chance to grow, is when one stops entirely growing. That was their main message about how they got to their amounted success. They were always open-minded about growing, even when the majority of people would have taken an alternative more cynical route. I was not able to fully receive the answer of “what would you have done differently”, but I am positive that the answer I did receive is going to serve me, and my peers, much longer throughout life. Dwelling on the past is what they did notdo, and failing is also what they did notdo. With a clear vision and end-goal, nothing should be a setback, if anything a step-up to a more experienced professional ready to achieve greater success in life.

I was happy that I got to discuss a bit of football and opinions during my conversation with the individual. However, this entire week has been one that I think truly embodies the message that the interviewee was trying to get across. I recently had to attend a hearing for another client, one I am not assigned to, during one of the most hectic weeks at the hill thus far. I did not know what to expect, nor was I exactly positive about what I needed to look out for, but gaining a new perspective and indulging fully into a topic I had absolutely zero knowledge about was refreshing. The committee hearing was obscure, and about pipelines, but undoubtedly, was the most lively and eccentric hearing I have attended throughout my entire time at Capitol Hill. Apparently pipelines and oil infrastructure are a unifying force between the two parties, and each member in the committee took turns borderline cursing one of the witnesses. In fact, one of them said “I’ll be on you like a bad spell.” I was most definitely not expecting my most exciting and informative committee of the week to be one I had no original interest attending, nor one that I had initial ties to. However, I feel much more prepared to talk about transportation and pipeline infrastructure if the situation arrives itself. If not, I still have that game plan ready when needed, and I found the silver lining, and a new life experience – just like the person I interviewed.

Breaking the Ice

Throughout my time in D.C., I have found that networking is essentially second nature to all. The geographical location makes it much more accessible to network, and it makes it feel much more natural. This is primarily because everyone has at least one thing in common, and something that breaks the ice easier than any other point – we’re all just simply trying to make it out here in D.C. One of the things I was most worried about before coming to D.C., was that when attempting to network or talk to someone new, there would be the odd “why are you trying to talk to me” reaction. I have quickly realized that this is obviously not the case, and more often than not, you will get a positive and excited reaction from someone if you approach them! Honestly, it’s so much easier said than done, especially as someone who is an introvert, but it’s a matter of taking the initial step to begin that conversation. However, once you start the initial conversation you find that it is all uphill from there! Everyone in the D.C. area, intern or not, are on the same page. This is one of the most comforting aspects of attempting to network in the D.C area. Everyone is equally as nervous as you, and everyone also wants to start a conversation. By acknowledging these aspects and engraining them into the reality of my day to day experience, especially as I spend time at the Hill, it makes attempting to network so much easier. Additionally, it really helps that as an ASU Capital Scholar, as well as at my work, we receive business cards with our information to be able to actually foster the relationships with the people we meet.

I have found that I have met the majority of the people I have begun networking with, in line for committees at the Hill. My very first hearing, I had someone else ask me what school I went to and after I said that I attended ASU, one of the panelists turned around and began telling me about how he also went to ASU and was from the Tempe area! The D.C. area is small, and it’s surprising how many people from your community you might actually be surrounded by. For example, the other day after I was going home from a long day at the Hill, I saw that a woman who was walking in front of me was wearing an ASU backpack! I was debating whether or not to approach her, but she was going the opposite direction and talking on the phone – so I decided that it was probably not the best idea. However, if she were not to be on the phone I likely would’ve tried to approach her to ask about her experience at ASU and how it led her to where she was now! Surprisingly, networking amongst roommates and people in other programs here at the WISH housing has been a very efficient and productive opportunity as well. One of my roommates who attends Mizzou was actually working on a project for her current internship which required information about voting rights organizations from each of the 50 states. I put her in contact with some of the people I have worked with in the past, and on the right track for the Arizona portion of her work! This is an example of how networking can be beneficial and applied to use. Even if it is no longer their current focus, past experience and connections can be beneficial to each of us – and may be just as helpful in the long run!

So far my experience networking has been a little challenging, considering that the ability to network really depends on who you’re standing next to in line for a committee. There have been many times when the person next to you in line is not interested in engaging in a conversation, so it turns into a matter of courtesy. That is not necessarily a bad thing, and acknowledging that can absolutely prevent someone from entering a disastrous or embarrassing situation, simply because they wanted to attempt to expand their network circle. I have found that other interns are usually the ones that attend the committees, and usually the ones I find myself talking to the most. However, there was a group of law students who stood in front of me in line and I was able to learn about their experience with law school. Gaining a multitude of perspectives from networking has also allowed me to continue my thought and decision process about the direction I want to go after I complete my undergrads. It’s fascinating that interns at the Hill, and interns who attend committee hearings in general, range from all ages and backgrounds. I would have initially thought that all interns were simply undergrads, but I have met a multitude of graduated students, and students in law school!

Having the opportunity to help represent Google has absolutely been one of the most educational experiences of my internship so far. Technology policy has been a field that I have always been curious about, and getting to attend a variety of technology-related committees has allowed me to enhance my terminology, and understand the logistics that actually pertain to technology policy. For example, I realized very quickly – that everything I knew about net neutrality was extremely surface level and not refined. Net neutrality is actually a loaded term and encompasses multiple parts that are all affected differently, and that the decision by the FCC to repeal net neutrality can actually be reversed by congressional authority. A recurring theme throughout many of the committees I have attended have been, “who has the authority to execute or delegate this policy?” That is one of the complications that actually slow down the legislative policy process the most. My goal for the rest of this week and the next is to make plans to grab coffee with someone I networked here in the area with. Fostering networking relationships is key, it’s just a matter of allowing myself to do so!

 

 

 

 

 

The Venn Diagram of D.C. and Phoenix are Two Circles

Working in the nation’s capital, weeks after completing an internship working in the Arizona capital of Phoenix, has allowed me to begin to understand and absorb the processes between the federal and local levels of government. Legislation on the federal level is going to be formatted and designed much differently than policy on the local level. Additionally, the local government in Phoenix does not go through the same policy process as the one on the federal level. This is primarily because of the constituents at stake. In Phoenix, you are dealing with a more specific demographic, and one that has more in common than they have opposite. This makes tailoring policy and projects a lot more popular than if it were to be on the federal level, where it is much more likely to receive pushback. In specific, the type of policy and the projects drafted on the federal level are usually catered to a large mass of people. When creating policy on the federal level, it will be much more difficult to please every community. Especially as each region of the country is geographically different, and the concerns and interests and ways policy impacts will never be the same in two different regions. Regardless of how much they have in common, each state has its own background, culture, and community, that will not be the same as a different state. For example, although both California and Massachusetts are considered “blue states”, their interests and demographics are almost polar opposites, and some of their leadership are even opposite parties. By comparing the divide amongst the same parties, one is able to understand how drastic the division between opposite parties and differing states are. Yet however, federal policy is created to apply to essentially every citizen. The ramifications, level of support, and feelings that are going to be toward the policy will always be mixed. It will almost always be that way, unless the culture and society of the United States evolves into a more unified state. However, since we are not yet there, local governments such as the one in Phoenix are the ones responsible for bringing community together and creating an environment where all in the community can thrive.

The demographics and culture between federal government and local government are broad, but it is the structure of which the two types of government actually operate that relates their efficacy and policy goals. For example, the city of Phoenix, AZ is structured as a mayor-council relationship. Where the mayor plays a role in leading the council and proposals for the city. However, the mayor will still require the vote and support of the council to pass policies. Additionally, the mayor works closely with the city manager to provide oversight over the department heads and work on the execution of the proposals and plans. A proper comparison can be to the executive and legislative branch that the federal government has. Actually, much like on the federal level, the mayor will create a proposal for the budget, working very closely with department heads and the city manager (almost like the president’s cabinet), and will require the approval of the council to be able to execute the city budget. There are some parallels between the two types of government systems, but after working and spending time in both of these major cities, D.C.’s bureaucracy is what ultimately slows down the two systems of government the most.

Now, I don’t personally believe this is a completely negative trait of federal government, but it objectively does slow down a process that its constituents demand to be more efficient. It is much faster to implement a plan on the local level than it is in the federal government. The system of checks and balances in both of these systems really only have one strong factor in common – the judiciary branch. Courts in Arizona have the power to overrule policy that was created on the local level, much like how the Supreme Court of the United States has the power to overrule policy that was created on the federal level. Ultimately, the federal government has constitutional superiority over the policies that are implemented on the local level. Phoenix is no exception.

Culturally, I would correlate the federal level of government and politics as one that has structure, but is still “stretchy”, almost like a balloon. When you blow it up it still maintains its shape, but can alter if you add unconventional things to the balloon. This is more so because of the amount and type of people that the federal government is constantly working with and trying to please. This is not necessarily a negative trait, but it is much different than the local level. As previously mentioned, the local level such as that in Phoenix, AZ, has a constituency base that is much more uniform (not necessarily exactly alike), than that of the entirety of the United States. The players and stakeholders on the local level usually are unified groups of constituents themselves, while on the federal level there is a much stronger presence of private special interest groups. However, on the local level there will always exist the presence of private special interest groups, but the local culture and demands can take priority and have a stronger presence. Special interest groups and even corporations will usually gravitate towards the state-level of politics to achieve their goals, but it is not unusual to touch base with the local level as well. This makes the culture and relationships of the local level slightly more personable than that of the federal level. City council members and the mayor can familiarize themselves with the most active groups in their community, while on the federal level there are groups and people constantly entering and exiting the scene. Additionally, Phoenix is part of one of the “newer” states, and only recently has Phoenix begun establishing itself on the national scale in terms of being an attractive and powerful metropolitan city. This is especially true as the city grows, and job-growth opportunities advance in the area. The area has begun transforming politically, and although it is not necessarily as powerful globally in the way that D.C. is, the impacts of local and state legislation are felt almost immediately. While this may not always be the case with D.C., what they do both immediately feel? Constituent opinion, and constituent activism. Being in D.C. I feel has been an incredible opportunity to be able to correlate my previous work in the local and state level, to that of which I am now doing on the federal level. By fully understanding how each system of government works, not in theory but rather in action, I will be stronger equipped to create and work on policy regardless of the level of government I end up working in.