American Politics Winter DC Seminar Day 1: Pride and Prejudice

Good Evening,

Abe here reporting from the timeless void that is my apartment living room. It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, which is cool. They say we’ll get one inch (I’ll spare you the joke). Coming from Atlanta, an inch of snow is a lot. As in, state of emergency, shut everything down kind of a lot. See, back in 2014, we had a “Snowpocalypse” after getting an inch or two of snow – as in cars on fire, people died, kids got stuck in school without food for days, Walking Dead poster-esque “Snowpocalypse.” Ever since then, anytime (and I promise I do not exaggerate) we get over a 30% chance of at least a half-inch of snow, the entire state shuts down. Until this past December, it’s always ended up raining instead.

But, enough small talk. How was today? What did you do? What did you talk about? Who were your speakers? What would you do for a klondike bar? What’s the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? Have you ever been in a.. in a Turkish prison?

To answer those questions in short: I’ll get to that; hold on; stuff; people; honestly, not much; What do you mean? African or European Swallow?; yes, but let’s not talk about that.

To answer (some) of those questions in long:

Our first speaker today was Noah Bookbinder from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Mr. Bookbinder discussed CREW’s role as watchdog for the United States government. His focus was on the three big issues that he argued lead to ethics violations in government: a lack of information and knowledge held by government officials, politics, and money. Mr. Bookbinder answered an array of questions for our class and was an overall excellent speaker for our class.

Our second speaker was Dr. Menna Demessie from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF). Dr. Demessie talked to us about the role of the CBCF in the political sphere, and how the government was “by” and “of” the people. We had several very interesting discussions about race relations, racism, and the like. The talk with Dr. Demessie was highly productive and very engaging.

After wrapping up with our second speaker, we headed our separate ways. I went with a group to dinner. The name of the restaurant might have had a “k” in it and was maybe something about books. Someone told me it was called “Afterward,” but either I misheard them or that was wrong (or maybe it was right, who knows). We rode home on the Red Line and had a nice encounter with one of DC’s residents as he talked to us about blindness.* Overall, it was a good day 12/10 would recommend (they’re all good days, Bront).

With the last bit of love left in my heart,
Abe Winterscheidt


*Please, folks, help the needy. See if they need food, or water, or money – don’t be selfish and not help them simply because you’re worried about them buying drugs or alcohol. It’s literally freezing outside, and if you have a chance to help someone out, even if you can’t be certain that they’re telling the truth about their intents or situation, do it. Hell, if you don’t have money or are just that paranoid about “oh my god, what if they spend it on drugs” (they probably won’t, but I mean, I guess you can’t know for certain), just talk to them. The homeless and needy have been through, and continue to go through, a lot; life is rough, and just engaging them in conversation can sometimes be enough to make them feel at least a tiny bit better. We’re all people, and we’re all just trying to make it by. Show some humanity for individuals outside of yourself, and maybe your family and friends. I know I try (though my crippling social anxiety tends to get in the way). Poverty is a serious issue in the United States and it doesn’t have to be. I know you can’t fix it with just a few bucks to one guy, but it’s better than doing nothing like everyone else – set an example. So, all of us reading this, let’s try to make a difference – people are selfish jerks, but you don’t have to be.

Categories: Academics, Student Blogs, Study Away, W&M in Washington Tags: , , , , , ,

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