Posted by John Patrick Thomas on July 19, 2017
Growing up as the son of journalists, I was raised on a healthy diet of political arguments at the kitchen table. My passion for public policy came with a side of mashed potatoes. Despite my many attempts to change the topic to the playoff hopes of the Boston Red Sox, I could not successfully escape the “more important” issues facing our nation. Now, after five years of studying and working on campaigns, I have found myself at FairVote, an organization that addresses, what I believe, to be the most important political issue of our time, electoral reform.
As a loyal Cantabrigian (a fancy way to say someone from Cambridge, Massachusetts), my first experience at the ballot box was using ranked choice voting to elect members of our City Council. Not until after studying at Duke University, interning on Capitol Hill, and working on a campaign in North Carolina, did I realize that meaningful reform is needed regarding the way we elect our public officials. Then, I decided I wanted to be a part of an organization driven by a mission and ultimate focus of making our political system work for all Americans.
During my final semester, I was connected to FairVote through a graduate student who was a Democracy Fellow. Now, a couple of months later, FairVote has given me the opportunity to fight for that mission I care so deeply about, and also bring an important piece of my hometown to the rest of the country.
At Duke University, I majored in Political Science and the Chinese language. As history so often does, it ends up repeating itself. While I lived in Beijing and Shanghai, some of my most worthwhile experiences remained at the dinner table. I loved speaking with my Chinese friends about their political system, the benefits and downfalls. On those warm summer nights, I was able to take a look at the American political system, partisanship, deadlock and the issues that came with them, from a foreigner's perspective.
Talking about politics in the United States, I became tangled in partisan arguments, unable to separate Democrats and Republicans from our system itself. Explaining American politics to others forced me to step back and question whether our elections are the best they could be to support democracy.
At FairVote, I am excited to begin as a Development Fellow, working with donor relations and outreach. Under the mentorship of the Director of Philanthropy, Celina Stewart, I hope to help FairVote grow and prosper, and most importantly, successfully advocate for electoral reform nationwide.