Posted by Theodore Landsman on September 15, 2016
Growing up in New York City, I was always an idealist when it came to politics — a trait which grew deeper after attending an Obama presidential campaign rally in 2008 with my parents, and marching with Occupy Wall Street in 2011. Then I made the decision to major in political science and canvassed for several campaigns. The reality of American politics both academically and from on-the-ground outreach transformed me into something more of a political cynic or (more optimistically) realist. Working at FairVote offers me the ideal outlet for my idealist and realist impulse: to call out the current electoral system and political climate as broken, and champion real, proven reform.
I first learned about FairVote when one of my professors at Reed College invited FairVote to campus to discuss reform possibilities. It was mainly advertised as a chance to meet the bassist from Nirvana and get some free coffee and brownies. Having taken several political science classes on elections and congressional dysfunction, I was already thoroughly convinced that major reform was needed. I had some ideas about what kinds of reform worked, but I assumed that this discussion was limited to classrooms, political science journals, and internet message boards. Hearing about FairVote was a moment of profound catharsis for me. Reform was not just a theoretical possibility. There were people really working on it, and they were making progress.
I finished up my undergraduate degree, participating in several political research projects with professors, and writing my own undergraduate thesis on ballot initiatives and reform. I learned more about FairVote by following the organization on social media. Soon, working here became a serious goal. I applied for a Democracy Fellowship and was lucky enough to get the position.
I’m excited to hone my skills in political research while developing a more advocacy focused approach. I want to make a meaningful difference in the way Americans view elections. It is an honor to work among smart, motivated people who are driven by similar convictions about the problems with American politics and the ways in which we can - right now- start fixing them.