Here’s something you don’t hear college students say every day: “When I grow up, I want to lobby members of Congress.”
However, for Jacob Glasser (’19), a student in the Political Engagement Pilot Project, after two months of working in Washington DC, that was exactly what he realized he wanted to do.
Jacob had always been passionate about climate change policy and environmental issues. Thus, for his PEPP summer, Jacob partnered with the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), a liberal advocacy organization that encourages political candidates to pursue more pro-environment agendas. LCV works with policymakers in both the executive and legislative branches, as well as with the general public to educate them on important legislation pertaining to the environment.
Jacob worked in LCV’s Policy and Lobbying department. As part of his internship responsibilities, he engaged in tasks as varied as testifying in front of the EPA on air quality in national parks, writing letters expressing LCV’s position on pieces of environmental legislation, and organizing a march from the White House to the Lincoln Memorial calling for President Obama to end offshore drilling.
However, as he describes in the following excerpt from one of his Letters Home, there was one part of Jacob’s job that he enjoyed more than all the others:
“Jacob, they’re voting soon. Get your suit on.” I threw my hands up in the air I was so excited. The long-awaited vote in the Senate on the motion to go to conference for the energy bill had finally arrived and I was going to do my favorite thing—lobby directly to senators in the Capitol building.
When many people think of lobbying, they immediately jump to negative associations. After all, it’s a common narrative in the media: consider article titles such as The Cato Institute’s “Rent-Seeking Weasels” and the Huffington Post’s “Lobbyists are Good People, Too.” There seems to be a general perception that lobbyists are purely self-interested people who give money to politicians to get what they want to the detriment of everybody else.
However, through his summer experiences, Jacob came to see lobbying as a genuine opportunity for him to communicate his own ideals and beliefs to our country’s chief policymakers:
I approached the second senator we saw, Sen. Cantwell, and asked her how she planned to vote. I was thrilled and blood rushed through my veins. Talking directly to those running our country and speaking to them about my convictions was a truly special experience.
Moreover, lobbying in the nation’s capital and feeling the gravitas of his surroundings made Jacob feel as if his actions were even more worthwhile:
When we turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House and had a clear view of the Capitol, my heart raced as I filled with excitement. We needed to lobby the Democrats to ensure that they would stick together and vote no, and their weekly caucus lunch was beginning soon in the Capitol. We ascended into the ornate, gold-laden lobby where I marveled at murals of Greek gods alongside our founding fathers. The imagery only made this place feel more significant.
Through his experiences working at the League of Conservation Voters, Jacob truly solidified his passion for one day working as an environmental lobbyist:
This experience was incredibly valuable and taught me so much. I hope to continue doing what I truly love—making a difference in Congress.