On November 30th I visited Jefferson City for the first time. I wasn’t there as a tourist, but as a future intern for a state senator. On the ride there I was imaging the glorious buildings of D.C. and the power that radiates from the wide hallways and large doors of Capitol Hill. But as I neared Jefferson City, my expectations were quickly decimated.
The area itself was small and the buildings looked aged; somewhat desolate and scattered. But the capitol building, albeit grayer than I anticipated, stood out with its traditionally rounded top and never-ending staircase leading to grand double doors. Once inside, I felt as thought I were standing in a gem among ashes. The building is full of history, rich architecture and paintings (some quite racist and reminiscent of times not so long ago).
I met with two women in the office that I will be commuting two hours to and from every Tuesday this semester. They were in the middle of moving to the bigger office next door as the senator was granted somewhat of an upgrade. Both women knew every person who entered, were professional yet at ease in every conversation. They are the conductors of the train that their boss, the senator, rides.
Beyond the grand and expansive aesthetic of the building, the office, and even the people I realized how little I understood of the inner-workings of state government. It was only months before, that I had realized how much power individual states have. And with that realization-how important every state government is.
The policies that truly affect the residents of Missouri are those passed in this building, by these State Representatives and Senators. While there are over a hundred State Representatives, there are only 34 Senators that preside in the “higher chambers” of the Missouri State Legislator and they introduce hundreds of bills every year that get lobbied, debated, tweaked, and either killed or passed in just a matter of five months.
Walking out of this massive establishment for the first time I wondered to myself, ‘how can I as an intern, a constituent, and a young person have an impact here?’
Stay tuned as I continue to blog about my legislative internship. Coming soon: Naive and Nervous, Eyes Open.