Lobbying at Congress gives new outlook on political ideology


Carly Joseph

When I got off the plane in our nation’s capital, I had no idea what was in store for me. I knew I would be lobbying at Congress and learning about important political issues, but I was unsure how the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) was going to make it happen. I was in D.C. with 12 other teens from my synagogue as well as hundreds of Jewish teens from across the country. I spent the first three days of March learning about issues with our legal system, gun control, climate change, reproductive rights, disability rights, minimum wage, unionizing and how to lobby.

My first lobbying experience was a simulation in which I allocated funds and lobbied with “Senators” about gun control. People were responsible for letter writing, door knocking, making phone calls, lobbying, making ads — basically everything needed to run a campaign. I was put on the side of the gun control debate that I didn’t agree with. I had to argue with fake Senators about legislation. I learned about the arguments of both sides and gained more knowledge of perspectives on either side of the political line.

Following the simulation, I proceeded to write a speech about reproductive rights to educate congresspeople based on bills supporting my point of view.

March 4, we stopped learning and became the teachers. We met with Rep. Angie Craig, the staff of Sen. Tina Smith, and the staff of Reps. Dean Phillips, Ilhan Omar, Betty McCollum and Tom Emmer. Angie Craig gave me an incredible amount of information about how our political system worked.

From Rep. Craig, I learned there are people willing to compromise all over the political spectrum and party lines are the real reason for lack of decision-making. Representatives need to keep their districts happy and a lot of that has to do with the most prominent political party in their area. While they might not agree with people in their district, it is their job to satisfy the public.

This experience truly opened my eyes to the inner-workings of the U.S. government and how the people in it operate.