Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Crazy but Fun

Through my internship experience at the National Association of Japan-America Societies, I can confidently tell that I have grown up as a professional, as a student, as a political scientist, and as an individual. However, it is so hard to explain how I have grown up by reflecting on every single experience I have gone through this summer. Therefore I would like to focus on what I have experienced last week and describe how I have grown up in variety of ways.

On Monday, July 23rd, I was invited to a dinner Mr. Matsudo who is a news writer from Ryukyu-Shimpo, which is one of the two largest local newspaper companies in Okinawa. I met Mr. Matsudo when I came to Washington, DC last January with Okinawan politicians to talk to senators, think-tank officers, and scholars regarding Okinawan US Military issues. Throughout the dinner we talked about Japan-Okinawa relations and how his daily life looks like as a journalist for a paper companies. Within this two-hour dinner I was able to ask him what it is like to work for a media and both pros and cons of being a journalist. In addition, I was very grateful that Mr. Matsudo invited me for a dinner and gave me a lot of great suggestions. I am also very grateful that I could keep in touch with him and meet up seven months later in Washington, DC. In my opinion, by judging from this experience, I have been successfully developing a skill to remain in touch with people who I meet and give them an impression which makes them want to have a dinner again. In terms of networking or opening up doors of more opportunity, I would like to continue to develop this skill in the times to come.
On Tuesday, July 24th, I had an opportunity to interview a Japanese diplomat, Mr. Wada, who is currently working in the Japanese embassy in France. Mr. Wada is the same scholar as I am who receive scholarship from the Grew-Bancroft Foundation in Japan. Through our conversation, I was able to ask him his experience in graduate school in Tokyo, the National Civil Servant Exam (exam to enter the Minister of Foreign Affairs), his experience in MOFA in the beginning, and his current experience as a diplomat. I was very grateful that I was able to seek out and set up an interview with someone who are currently in a position where I would like to be in the future. Also, through this experience, I was able to learn how to utilize what I have in my pocket. This time, I was able to set up this interview by simply asking the person in Tokyo. I learned that using what you have and knowing what you have are very important in all levels which I will be in my life.
On Wednesday, July 25th, I had an opportunity to go to George Washington University Elliot School and have a meeting with a well-known professor, Dr. Mike Mochizuki, who has a number of publishing in US-Japan relations and East-Asian politics. During my meeting, I asked him several questions regarding my future path (since he has taught a number of Japanese students in the graduate school level and has seen what kind of paths they have taken in their lives), school administration, senior thesis topics, and most excitingly I was able to ask his opinion on the on-going Osprey issues happening in Japan (This was very exciting since I know there are a number of journalists in Japan who have been contacting Dr. Mochizuki to do interview and ask for his opinion on the issue. However, they have been rejected…but I was able to ask him questions.) Through this experience, I was able to gain a better sense about entering into graduate school and becoming a student in the higher level. In addition, I was able to experience and learn how to interview a scholar and keep the conversation going without making it uncomfortable for the person who I am interviewing.
On Thursday, July 26th, I had a mid-term evaluation meeting with my supervisors to ask them how I have been doing as an intern. During our meeting, we have talked about how I am doing in terms of being an intern, work, communication, project progresses, quality of project and general conversation about what I have gained from my experience. I was very glad that both of my supervisors told me that I have been doing a great job in all level of their expectations that they have toward me. I was delighted to be told that I have been very responsible with my work and I set a higher expectation for the next intern to come next semester. In addition, I am very excited to make a new record for my project that all the former summer interns have done in the past. After the meeting, I had a meeting with a vice president of the DC office and the head researcher Mitsubishi Tokyo UFJ Bank. During the meeting, Mr. Kida, we talked about the current job-market in Japan and I asked him about what companies are looking for from students who are seeking for a position in their companies. Since there is a possibility that I might do a job-hunting during the school year, I was very grateful that he could talk to me about the reality of the Japanese job-hunting environment. Also, I was so grateful that he told me he would help me in any ways he can in the future. By setting up and having a mid-term meeting with my supervisors allowed me to develop a better relationship with them and I was so lucky that they think positive of me. Also, by developing a closer relationship with the people who are in a hiring position in a Japanese country allowed me to know what the reality looks like in Japan. I think this will help me to know and understand what the hiring sides are looking for from their prospective.
On Friday, July 27th, I had a meeting with the president of one of the major trading companies in Japan, Marubeni Corporation, Mr. Imamura. The talk I had was very similar to the one I had with Mr. Kida on Thursday. However, I realized that my confidence has increased as I have keep meeting with a number of people who I do not get to talk to in Minnesota. I am glad that I have learned to talk properly to the people. Also, through the process of setting up meetings, I have been able to develop a skill to write properly in Japanese which I do not usually get since I go to school in the US.
As I have listed above, I have been gone through a number of invaluable experience which I would rarely get in Minnesota, particularly talking to Japanese people who are working in Washington DC has been one of the greatest experience I have had in this summer. These things might sound normal thing to have for some students. However, I think that the pile of these experiences will allow me to build a strong and firm foundation for my future career in terms of inter-personal skills, network building skills, administrative skills, and so on. I would like to keep in mind after I go back to MN in order to keep myself more motivated to push myself to achieve what I want to achieve in my life. Within the days I have left in DC this summer, I would like to seek out and experience to grow as a professional, as a student, as a political scientist, and as an individual. week seems reallu crazy! but it is absolutely amazing and FUN!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This internship has changed my understanding of politics by making it a more personal and intimate process. Before coming to DC, I had studied politics largely in terms of theory, data collection, and news stories. I understood the process involved in making or not making things happen in Washington, and I could identify the factors that influence government in various ways. Even though I knew who held positions in Washington, I would often analyze politicians as if they were operating as robots in a game that could be won if manipulated correctly and consistently. Meeting with speakers has helped the astonishing fact sink in—politicians aren’t superheroes and villains that run around with infinite knowledge and ability. In fact, the government is run by human beings that are definitely constrained by their own limitations as a species.
This concept became especially true to me when I went to a hearing on energy efficient retrofitting and Al Franken presided on the panel. I was astonished by how unimpressive his presence actually was- especially when he stood up and I realized he is very short and rather nonthreatening.  I am also starting to understand that Congress isn’t necessarily as interested in information gathering as one might expect.

Today I went to a Senate hearing about financing sustainable retrofits for infrastructure. The hearing took place in the Russell building, and I was very excited because the witnesses were supposed to testify to a full Senate Committee. When I got to the hearing room, I was at first surprised by imbalance of people in the room. The staff section was overflowing with people, while the panel area for Senate members only housed Al Franken. I was surprised and disappointed to realize that ‘full committee’ could possibly just mean ‘Al Franken and the unenthusiastic chairman.’

My internship has allowed me to further understand that the bureaucracy is not some evil machine that only serves to turn good policy into mush. Neither is it really under the control of the Executive or the Legislative branch, as we are lead to believe in our studies of American Politics. My time working in the bureaucracy has shown me that the bureaucracy is not ill intentioned or filled with stupid people, but rather it is filled with friendly and kind people that have personal interpretations of how laws should be implemented. Each agency bonds together and takes a certain stance on various issues despite what the President and Congress pass into law. I reality, I have always known that the bureaucracy is not filled with malicious people yet, through my academic understanding of politics, it became that in my mind.

My time in Washington has also taught me that networking is best done when it is genuine. I have always been ill-at-ease with the concept of networking because I have never enjoyed small talk. However, I have found that the closest connections I make are ones where I am appreciated for my personality as it is. I went beyond my comfort zones in some situations, but for the most part I have made close connections with people that naturally click with me. This is the closest type of network to have, and ironically it is also the easiest to acquire. My political understanding has completely changed because I am starting to understand how informal political processes become when they are not in the public limelight. Staffing, for example, seems to be almost completely about networking and whether or not a person’s personality matches the feel of the agency. From what I can tell about my internship site , they do not hire unless there is a position open, and they personally know the new employee. This hiring system is especially true for their executive positions.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Transportation Frustration, and Concert Memories

My time in Washington DC this summer has helped me realized some of the major differences between living in a big political city and Minnesota. My first couple weeks were incredibly eye-opening as I began to adapt to living with public transportation. If starting a new job and meeting a whole new set of roommates isn't hard enough, add on the difficulty of trying to grocery shop or hit up target without a car. I have never quite realized how heavy groceries are, or how annoying a transfer stop on the metro can be-- both the added time and physical effort of carrying groceries in the heat had me completely wiped out by the end of my first weekend in DC.

Luckily our housing location is ideal for many of the fantastic events that happen right outside of the Capitol. On the Fourth of July, we were lucky enough to have Adam Ironside to save us fantastic seats so that we only needed to start walking to the Fourth of July Concert at the Capitol a half hour before it started. Both the Fourth of July and Memorial day Concert, were highlights of my time in DC. There was something magical about sitting on the Capitol steps a midst throngs of decorated people waving flags. The people watching was fantastic simply because every type of person imaginable was in attendance-- citizen's, visitors, hippies, hicks, the rich, the poor, and uniforms from every branch of the government.

The Memorial Day Concert was a patriotic and emotional event that focused largely on highlighting the pain families feel when they lose a loved one to the service. My location during this concert was ill suited for viewing the screen and speakers on stage, but the emotional effect was not lost on me. Hearing an emotional voice ringing out over the crowds of people is perhaps more deeply impacting than seeing talking and seeing them one on one.

On a happier note, the Fourth of July Concert was a wonderful variety show that reminded me of my times performing oldies tunes in my high school's annual variety concert. The performers were absolutely amazing vocalists, and I enjoyed hearing the duets and oldies tunes. Most of the songs were upbeat and were American classics or had a patriotic theme to them. I particularly appreciated that they had John Williams- the composer of Star Wars, Harry Potter, and many other songs-- conducting the National Symphony Orchestra.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bipartisan Blame: Delaying the Farm Bill During Drought

A 35-11 bipartisan vote on the House Agriculture Committees’ farm bill had a shimmer of optimism for a successful 2012 Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act, conventionally referred to as the farm bill. However after two weeks of “kicking the proverbial can down the road,” talks continue about delaying a vote on the final bill until after the November election (Thanks to POLITICO for the spot-on description of Congress’ progress). There are many problems with this possibility. The primary qualm, the current farm bill expires September 30. Secondly, if extended past the election, neither President Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney have shown any interest in the progress of the farm bill and it is highly unlikely it would be on any form of a priority list. According to POLITICO, never has a House farm bill, once out of committee, been kept on the floor past its expiration. Forecasts are not pleasant for the farm bill.

Corn and soybean farmers in the Midwest are acutely aware of forecasts these days. According to NOAA, this summer’s drought in the Midwest is the worst in 50 years. The USDA updated the state of the corn and soybean crop last week noting that only 31 percent of the corn crop was in good shape and only 34 percent of soybeans remains in good condition. This drought is comparable to the drought in 1988, when crop losses resulted in $40 billion down the unusually dry drain. While Speaker Boehner worries about the need for more cuts in the farm bill, he should also place considerable focus on the amount of money that is lost due to crop failure, especially in a changing climate. Mother Nature does not care about the status of the farm bill, she will not wait for a final bill to be passed. Agriculture will continue to be affected by an ever-warming climate and therefore considerable attention needs to be paid to the success of the farm bill and guaranteeing stability for our nation’s farmers.  

The farm bill, as well as the Midwest drought, are of significance to my work because I am in the final stages of editing a report on climate change and the affects on agriculture. My supervisor wrote the majority of the piece, but I have done considerable work in editing, finding graphics, citing sources and adding in my own sections on the effects of climate change on women and the benefits of green manure. It is one of the three major reports that will have my name attached. I am ecstatic about the opportunity to publish work with a reputable institution at such a young age. My work on the state of fisheries and aquaculture and the state of the world’s grain crops (wheat, maize, and rice) will be included in Worldwatch’s annual publication, Vital Signs. Despite my excitement in publishing work, I try to make a conscious effort to keep the issues real; trying to avoid solely thinking about climate change and agriculture at an abstract level I type about from my 8th floor office. Going back home to Minnesota will make the crisis real as I’m sure it will be impossible to ignore the drought and the insight from my climatologist father. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Beyond the Pine Curtain: Political Understanding in the Center of the Universe

This summer has not been a simulation. It has not been a workshop. It has not been a practicum. It has been a real life, everyday immersion into THE political center of the world; a Political Science majors’ dream. It is not necessarily big events that have made me more aware of my political understanding, but rather a culmination of my day to day activities. However, this week many of my observations we’re put into words. This week’s speakers provided me with precious nuggets of wisdom that gave me a lot to reflect upon and often reflected what I witness and think about on a day-to-day basis. Between insights from our speakers and my personal experience in D.C., I can identify two general themes that I have become more aware of as a D.C. resident: there are no obvious “good” and “bad” guys in politics, and when it comes down to it, we’re all just humans.  

I have always prided myself on trying not to think of the world in black and white, as good and bad. In my naiveté, I thought I was much more open-minded. However after coming to D.C., I realized that behind the Pine Curtain I have always unconsciously thought of the political world as a divide between good guys and bad guys. Naively, I thought there were two groups of representatives, lobbyists, and policymakers: those that promoted my interests and those that obstructed my interests from becoming action. This is not always the case. And in many situations, there are many shades of grey. Dr. Shane Smith exemplified this in an anecdote that really stuck with me; Shane provided examples of the divide between rhetoric and action. To set the scene, Shane was discussing nuclear disarmament and the role our last two President’s played in reducing our stockpile of nuclear weapons. As a promoter of nuclear disarmament, in my “good” guys and “bad” guys scenario, I had President Bush pegged as the “bad” guy and President Obama as the “good” guy. However, in terms of action against nuclear disarmament, this was not the case. Shane informed us from his expert perspective, President Bush did more to reduce the nuclear stockpile than any other President, but he communicated his action very poorly with the public. On the other hand, President Obama has done little to reduce the United States nuclear stockpile but based on his speech in Prague and overall communication skills, has led the public to believe he is far more engaged than he actually is through his powerful rhetoric. This opened my eyes to see - for about the millionth time this summer - that politics is far more complicated than simply “good” and “bad.”

In a culmination of moments in my political understanding, I acknowledged big business can have non-profit goals and passion. I was invited to attend the launch of the Global Food Security Index at the National Press Club. The Index was created by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a branch of the publication The Economist, and funded by DuPont. Especially in the agriculture world, there is a definite divide between the perceived motives of big business and the best interests of small-scale farmers. However, at the conference, I acknowledged the genuine passion of DuPont to create a tool to better understand the root cause of food insecurity and develop a means by which small-scale farmers and big-business entrepreneurs can communicate about solutions to end hunger. There was a question from an audience member that addressed whether the motives of DuPont were for philanthropy or profit. This question got me thinking: Does it really matter? Shouldn’t the end product be what is evaluated? It is a question I am still pondering, but once again I was enlightened - “bad” profit-seekers can have “good” guy motives. 

Nate Freier provided me with the most insightful, “ah-ha” advice this week. Nate told us: When it comes down to it, we’re all just human. Wow. This one really hit me. Previously, I had put all policymakers, representatives, bureaucrats, judges - and in the context of Nate’s comment - military advisors, on a pedestal: more intelligent, more worldly, better decision makers, etc. This is true, or hopefully is true, in most cases. However, at the root, we all still make mistakes. We all still have no idea what we’re doing in certain situations. We’re all intimidated by the complexity of the political sphere. We’re all unaware of our paths. We’re all just humans.  

The human aspect of unpredictability was further exemplified by Ashley and Tajel’s realization that there is no one “path” to follow. I, like Ashley and Tajel, am a planner and this was terrifying to hear, especially from two very intelligent and successful women. I want a path. I want a path that directs me to take this step and then this step and then this step and then achieve happiness and success. I have to come to terms with the fact that if I intend on having a career in D.C., this is not and will not be the case. In conclusion, my experience beyond the Pine Curtain has revealed that things are not as by-the-book as academia presents. In the real world of politics, happenstance always accompanies hard work and there are no good guys and bad guys, there are only humans. 

A microscopic outlook

Before I begin this entry, I must preface that I have most recently created a new email folder titled “News” in my Microsoft Outlook and though its content is currently sparse, it is a new folder nonetheless (and I do not make folders without reason). Times are changing, as are my Microsoft Outlook Email folders. Also, I’m realizing that the content of my “Class” folder (containing countless emails from professors and drafts of papers) will expectantly fill with new content in the near future as well. Not just new content in the sense of new class e-mails, but also in the sense that my new classes will reside in new fields considering my change of majors which occurred approximately 3 days ago. Outlook gives proverbial insight into my life and also into how much this summer experience has perhaps changed what messages I will send and receive in the future (It’s all clear now – Microsoft meant for “Outlook” to actually be the proverbially way of looking out on one’s life…).
            Well, the insides of my real, everyday folders of life are currently overflowing with information, so much so that I have had to resort to these email folders I suppose. If I could imagine what I would write on the cover of these three imaginable folders inside my head, one would read “Stuff I think I kind-of understand,” another “Stuff that I don’t really understand but can get by,” and the third most worn-down folder would read “Rats.” It would not read rats just because rats seem to enter their way into my D.C. life quite frequently, but rather because I often says rats as a reaction to something that really doesn’t make sense (or literally… R.A.T.S. could be the equivalence of Really And Truly Shocking… for better or for worse).
            Would it be correct to say that as my folders have grown, I have grown as well? That is neither here nor there. Rather, what is here, is the concrete:
            I can say that I can now give insight into contemporary Cuba, which Congress members are for and which are against the end of the 53-year-old trade embargo and travel ban, and my own personal opinion regarding our U.S. policy on Cuba. When my email receives every Google alert that’s written on “Cuba” (even those regarding Cuba Gooding Jr., not to mention Cuba, Missouri), it would be an unfortunate situation had I not acquired this taste and insight on Cuba. On another work note, I have acquired a taste for Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, and other Latin American countries as well. The flavor has been quite bold, strong, consistent, and often times unfulfilling in the sense that there does not seem to be a way to make the taste less distasteful.
            Another budding flavor is the fact that I sent an email to the registrar at a ripe 3 a.m. Friday morning notifying them that I was changing my major. Although keeping my Hispanic Studies major, I am dropping my 3-year-long English major as to make room for more international relations courses. Indeed I have drank the international relations Kool-Aid, and will be drinking more into the next year. Maybe I have drunken too much too fast, especially in light of a seminar week with speakers who work in foreign policy, and it sure is an addictive taste. I will “cheers” to my new decision and only hope that I will be “cheers-ing” at the end of next year.
            The cherry on top on all of this savory food would have to be the people I’m surrounded by and how much flavor they add to each day here. I’m not just talking about the people at hearings, the professionally dressed in the streets, nor the senator living next door. Rather, I’m talking about those other 14 CSB/SJU students in this program. The ones who inspire me each day to learn more, to succeed, to follow my passion as they are all so clearly doing. I love meeting people who truly love what they do, and being around that each day when I come home from work could not bring a better environment to learn what motivates them, what they are working toward, and what they are hoping lies in store for them in their futures. These Bennies and Johnnies walking on their own paths, have shared some of it with me for the time being and have left me to discover politics like they have. This means reading, asking questions, promoting lively discussion, and then living out what they believe in each day. Talk about leaving a taste in one’s mouth (in this case one that is most tasty and conducive for growth… like a fine wine perhaps).
            So with a priceless food that touches the taste buds and the soul, possibly being thought of as cookie dough (Sometimes it makes you sick, but you eat it anyway. You only eat it when you’re very sad or very happy and never regret it. Not to get all mushy, but the care that goes into making cookie dough with loved ones really determines whether a batch is good or not), I certainly feel full at the end of a day. There are never enough folders for the amount of learning that takes place, both on the work site learning about foreign policy issues and when I come home to learn about what all these other characters learned about during their days. It is with thanks to folders, taste buds, and great people that I am able to process this D.C. world, and I cannot express more thanks. All that made this possible are very much appreciated.
            Have I grown by being here? How does one measure growth? In money, stature, laughter, or how about silence? It is in those moments of silence where I truly taste a moment that I have grown the most. Perhaps it is a silence “rats” moment. And with that, cheers to the hum of the air conditioning and more silence to come.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tears of the Wolf Cry

Described in this prompt as “the big bad wolf of American politics,” there are many questions that come to mind while exploring the goods and/or evils of the lobby. With the word “lobby” remaining unclear for me since learning the textbook definition in eighth grade, I have been skeptical of how big and bad these wolves are or perhaps do these wolves just upset the wrong people. Surely, no one is born a big, bad wolf in my eyes; therefore, if these practices truly are bad, then what made these practices begin and why have they continued to go on for so long? This is America, and where there is a big, bad wolf, there is usually a smaller, good wolf (aka Red Riding Hood) that triumphs in the end… right?

Well, it turns out that it if these wolves are big and bad, there is not just is not just one but a plentiful amount working not only in the Washington D.C. area, but also around the United States at federal, state, and city levels. With so many wolves running around, I am therefore led to believe that there are not so many bad wolves out there as people may think. Wouldn't they have been stopped long ago if they were truly up to no good? Furthermore, by cutting out the wolves, wouldn’t that be cutting out other systems of life as well? That’s the way the ecosystem works, and although the political system can be thought of as different (for some, perhaps more artificial), it is still a system that relies on others nonetheless in playing a key part in making the political system go around each day. With all of these wolves running around, they are able to make things happen for citizens, corporations, political figures, and sometimes maybe for themselves as well.

What do the experts have to say about this breed of politics? Well, according to the four articles provided on Moodle, they all have a lot to say but of course not in an agreeable, or sometimes even understandable, manner. Their definitions are somewhat contradictory and are as follows: Victor’s article refers to lobbying as interest groups in a legislative complex; Hojnacki and Kimball as groups to convey to legislators different types of information while maintaining their organizations; Mersheimer-Walt as a loose group of individuals and organizations that actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy [in terms of U.S.-Israel relations in this case); and Goldstein as actions that attempt to influence inside-the-beltway inhabitants by influencing the attitudes or behaviors of outside-the-beltway inhabitants. With perhaps the only real decided definition is that lobbying involves a “group” effort, I can take this to mean that there are many different types of wolves, both good and bad, that produce different reactions from the wider kingdom of the United States of America.

When something receives a high-level of emotion reaction from someone, it usually means they did something to deserve it, good or bad. In the real world, wolves take the action of hunters and gatherers who seem curious about the world around them and with a howl that lets one know that they mean business. It can be seen as a warning to some or as a vocal attack to others. I wouldn’t say that this is far from the mark of working lobbyists. Rather than hunting and gathering for their families, they sometimes take these risks for those that put the food on their table and the money in their pockets – large corporations or other interest groups. Sometimes, however, lobbyists could be working to benefit themselves and others like them to change policies in their favor – more of a grassroots approach. And don’t lobbyists warn and provide insight to legislators by vocalizing their ideas, or at least making noise even if our legislators refuse to listen? They are informers, listeners, messengers, and sometimes teach people a lesson in the meantime – keep in mind, they do have sharp teeth which they can use if necessary.

So, do lobbyists have a right to be called the big, bad wolves or are people just “crying wolf” to have something to cry about when things don’t go their way? Well, Mearsheimer in his article “…Explaining America’s Special Relationship with Israel” would say that lobbyists are solely wolves sticking up for wolves and not the rest of the population. He looks into the forest and sees the wolves solely looking out for their interests and getting away with it in terms of the U.S.-Israel relationship. They have power because they have the money and support to do so, whereas the average person cannot reach that sort of control by wolfing their way into the political world. It is clear that Mearsheimer believes that lobby’s activities and impacts are at fault for a “harmful” relationship between the U.S. and Israel. When lobbyists step into foreign territory, Mearsheimer would raise the important concern that lobbyists blind legislators from seeing the whole issue.

Although Mearsheimer expresses a genuine concern, wouldn’t his concern also mean that legislators weren’t able to make decisions as well? By expressing that lobbyists are shaping our foreign policy, isn’t he saying that legislators are that vulnerable that they give into this wolf pack? Would that therefore be a criticism on us, the U.S. citizens, electing these legislators to power? It seems that Mearsheimer’s real issue may be that he feels so strongly about ending the support to our current Middle Eastern friend more than he feels strongly about lobbyists in general. Something has to be made the roadblock for Mearsheimer’s opinion, and he has painted the wolves as the sole barrier, although forgetting to acknowledge all of the other forces at work –like two pretty large, powerful countries.

No doubt about it, wolves take bites out of the political system, but to what extent and degree, and are these bites justified? If they didn’t bite, who would? Clearly, I am not ready to write all wolves out as big and bad. All work for different motives as do people in all professions, and of course one rotten apple can somehow make all apples out to be rotten. While some would swear off apples in this situation, it could be thought of as a risk to never at least try another again (unless you are indeed Little Red Riding Hood).

In my case, the organization I’m interning for is neither thought of as a lobbying firm nor partisan entity yet we are often found on the Hill trying to influence policy. This is where the subjective opinion of a lobbyist has to come into play because while some would argue that we are not lobbying, aren’t we indeed influencing and advocating for legislators to agree with us? To make a change that will help our constituents by making it clear that it will help legislators’ constituents as well? It is important for us to have connections, network, have names on file that we can approach, and also be truthful. We need to keep our word, perhaps do a favor for someone that will help us get our foot in a legislator’s door in the future. One could and sometiems does see this behavior as a "big, bad wolf" scenario I suppose. However, being close to the Hill, it is almost necessary to have a wolf-like tendency because is it not more or less our obligation and responsibility as active U.S. citizens to advocate for those across the U.S. who are not in such close proximities to legislation on the Hill?

Although questions remain in the air and speculations remain afloat, it is not too arguable that lobbyists do indeed make change as active U.S. citizens. These changes may not be for the better for all, but it is neither here nor there to label our wolves as bad as it is to label the work of lobbyists as “harmful.” For what is harmful to some is beneficial for others. Besides, as a German proverb goes, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.” Furthermore, don’t fear wolves or cast judgement upon them. Rather, learn about the hunt and then decide and act upon the new knowledge that is instilled.