Shutting Down DC
Despite the news screaming about impending doom, it’s eery how life is continuing almost normally here in DC. The cop cars still speed up and down Wisconsin Avenue, the N4 bus still gets me to class on time, and the dumpsters outside my window are still emptied at an unholy hours of the morning. From my apartment, it could almost look like we have a functional government.
The reason people in DC (by that, I mean those who haven’t been indefinitely laid off this week) have been able to keep some degree of normalcy in their lives because of some bold and risky leadership ay City Hall. The Mayor, City Council, CFO, and community leaders in DC decided to take a stand and use our tax dollars as a form of civil disobedience against the inaction of the federal government.
That last sentence sounds a bit larger than life so let’s back up almost 20 years. In 1995 When Newt Gingrich’s Republicans shut down the federal government, funding for government services in DC were cut off. I don’t mean that the monuments were closed. I mean they weren’t allowed to pick up the garbage. Public transportation had to stop entirely. Nobody knew if there was money to feed or guard the prisoners in DC jails. Those essential state and municipal functions were stopped because DC’s budget is regulated by Congress in the Constitution. Therefore, the law set common sense aside and chaos nearly ensued.
Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton fought to make sure certain DC workers were declared essential and remained funded (hooray for not letting prisoners starve to death in their cells). But the fact remains that arcane rules dating back to slavery govern how we live our day to day lives.
Today, we’re seeing a radical shift in the law. DC has declared budget autonomy and with the federal government’s silence through last April’s referendum DC’s movement towards self determination is being paved on federal ignorance and inaction. Perhaps this is the way of getting things done in the current era of Congressional political grandstanding.
I’ve thought about all of these questions over the past three years working on DC voting rights and statehood issues. I’ve seen continual failings of all parties involved to behave responsibly and reasonably. That’s why I continue fighting. That’s why I’ve started working again with the various organizations I’ve collaborated with in the past to help end the systemic disenfranchisement in DC. We are finally seeing the movement bear fruit after nearly 20 years of playing defense against Congressional Republicans. If we continue the pressure, we will succeed.
A Practical Exercise- Quick Researching
Term papers are great, they help you formulate an original and complex thought and convey it in a way that change overall discourse. But back in the reality of the workplace, I find myself unable to present my boss with a 12-15 examination on policy. What’s I’m often asked for can generally be called “notes.” In every job I’ve ever had, my notes have been a saving grace in high pressure situations.
I started my advanced note taking while working at City Hall. I had to meet a lot of important people to convey basically the same message. So they got a note with my points. I I made a note on them. Pictures and charts are great. No need for flowery language. It’s about having facts on hand and then discussing second-level ideas. A true brief allows you to go above the cursory and debate the true issue at hand.
I’ve learned a lot about brief writing in my various jobs as well as from lectures in school. I think about what I need to know and what I want to know. What all the sides of the argument are, relevant background, key players, and tangental issues that need to be brought out. If you can put that into 1-2 pages, you’ve mastered introducing facts clearly and concisely. Once that is mastered, you then have to weave in your argument so any shared information is influential to another party.
That’s it, fairly simple thoughts but massively difficult to do… and I haven’t even approached how to gather this information quickly. Maybe my next post will be on what a past employer termed “aggressive Googling.”
FDDS and Mastery are helpful in achieving and Mastering skills by forcing me to learn and adapt using certain processes. I want to Master oral argumentation on a level above my mastery of written argument. Speaking effectively is largely considered the greatest skill. I will dedicate myself through all my endeavors to practice and master these skills.
I’ve always done reasonably well in school despite the fact that I prefer working outside the classroom. Learning for learning’s sake is fine, but practicable knowledge has always driven me.
Since I’ve had the opportunity to explore working in my field, I’ve taken full advantage of internships and service experience to expand my thinking in the workplace. I’ve sought out my life’s passion as Greene describes it by finding every niche within a particular subject area. Seeing all the aspects of political science, politics, and government has allowed me to see that world from every possible angle. I can confidently say I have a macro-level knowledge sufficient to move into a specified niche area.
As for law, my true end goal, I have not yet had the opportunity to engage in a formal legal education but I have been able to seek out opportunities— talking to lawyers, reading independently, and taking a few classes to truly learn all I could.
Being at the end of my AU Education, I can say that college has been beneficial insofar as it has opened doors to jobs and law school and inspired me to seek real knowledge in the workplace.
Robert Greene explains this process I’ve lived by dialectically examining how we think and learn through experience, contrasts, and inspiring experiences. What I got out of his book is that I should take full advantage of learning through every experience— to make everything into a teachable moment. This fits into my desire to learn from the workplace where I am forced to think creatively, preemptively, and reflectively. The ability to anticipate needs based on past experiences is critical to succeeding in a dynamic results driven environment.
I’ve taken these needs to heart and implemented them in every aspect of my life.