In the Grind – JJ Briscoe

OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ Victory Institute. Learn more about the internship at victoryinstitute.org/vci

What’s been filling my thought bubble lately during the Victory Congressional Internship is that it is now halfway over! I am now able to look back and begin to reminisce nostalgically over the time I have had here so far in a little over a month. These past few weeks have continued to teach me and create a deeper understanding of the world of politics on the Hill. Lately, we have been learning about influence in the government and, while simultaneously watching perhaps the largest bill to ever pass through Congress, the topic has appeared pretty relevant. Experiencing the influence of corporations has probably been the most taxing and most discouraging aspect as I have had to answer dozens of calls from constituents who are upset about ads that are purchased by large corporations and are being shown in our district. Some of the ads being run against my representative list frustrating things to hear, such as that Representative Davids wants to “tax retirement” or that she should not vote for the reconciliation bill because it is going to raise everyone’s taxes for generations. What makes these calls so discouraging is that after calls like the ones mentioned, we receive so many calls about the desperate need for prescription drug prices to be lowered. It is hard watching people lose support and belief that their representative is trying to do what is best for them right in front of your eyes. Especially while knowing that the representative is truly trying or at least believes that they are working on policies to help all of those that are in need in our community.

Although I may have experienced a darker version of influence on the government, through Victory I was able to meet and take part in another type of influence of government, activism. In one of our recent weeks, we had rich conversations with activists including  Rebbca Kling, a community organizer, and advocate for transgender rights. Talking about how we can not only hold others such as our institutions accountable but ourselves in day-to-day life was encouraging to hear. Then as a part of the Victory program, I got to complete community service and put influencing the government into my own hands when I went to go canvas for Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person to be elected. We went door to door to help local residents become aware of the election coming up and the choices that are on the ballot, including the gubernatorial race. We were also featured by the Human Rights Campaign’s social media!

Observing and experiencing the influences of the government has been overwhelming, to say the least. But no matter what, it pushes and fuels me to influence the government and what I aspire to get out of it myself. It also fuels my passion for making sure our government is one where, when the people’s voices come together, they are stronger than any private company or profitable interest that may stand in the way.