Arianna Nason is the Tribal Organizer for MCH, as well as Humphrey Public Policy fellow. She recently had the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. for part of her fellowship, and below is one of many reflections from her time there.
As one of the Humphrey Public Policy fellows, I recently went on a trip to Washington DC. I had the opportunity to meet with many political players from multiple fields. We held conversations with legislators and senators, reporters, analysts, researchers, and leadership from various branches of our government. To be honest, I didn’t fully know what to expect going into this trip, especially since it was my first time visiting DC. With our current political climate, I was eager to observe the ways in which multiple platforms in DC have to navigate with and around one another, while still attempting to build towards a common goal.
Notably, there was a significant air of difference when we were meeting with elected officials versus non-elected career government and political leadership. It was our meeting with certain directors at the Pentagon that really stuck out for me, in this light.
One person in particular illuminated a new side of the political spectrum for me, through open, honest, and knowledgeable conversations about our current political climate.
They have been a career government employee their entire life, and they are the 4th generation in their family to serve in such a way. Dedication to serving our country is a part of their family legacy, but current tensions across party lines have caused this person to process much more critically what it means to serve as it stands.
This individual was also very open and clear about which political party they belonged to, but had a way of discussing the topic that felt beautifully foreign to me. Lately, it can so easily feel like two different political parties means two warring bodies of government. It doesn’t need to – and shouldn’t – feel this way. Meeting with this person at the Pentagon refreshingly reminded me of that. The way this person talked about their work was less about wins and losses for various parties, but was only oriented towards a common finality – building safety, security, and prosperity for every person living in the United States of America.
I try to carry this reminder with me now, as I enter my first legislative session in Minnesota. At Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless and within Homes for All, we are trying to pass a $140 million bonding bill, which is the largest ask we’ve ever made.
Yes – if passed, it would definitely be a big win, but we must remember that the only people we need to be fighting to win for are the residents of this state. I want to build with our representatives to pass progressive legislation, and to continue to frame our policy work as continuing building towards a common future.