Ever since I was little, I’ve been interested in politics. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the fast-talking, altruistic characters portrayed on TV, characters who would save the day and protect the integrity of our government over the course of a single West Wing episode. Whatever the exact draw, I ended up going to school to study political science. It was during my undergrad coursework that I realized the reality of politics and the dichotomy between the political process and our political (democratic) ideals. Like most students of political science, I came to realize just how far our government functions from its ideal. Frustrated with the reality of politics, I became drawn into political theory where the literature discussed how we can talk, act, and rearrange structures of power and institutions of governance to become part of a better society.
Whether one takes the perspective that it's because of gridlock or partisanship or special interests, all the literature is generally pessimistic about government being better. There is very much a prevalent rhetoric that our current system needs to improve. I came to FairVote because it is one of a few organizations that focuses on systemic changes instead of superficial procedural changes that help our democracy function.
FairVote’s focus is to create better democracy, to make our system better so that our voices can be better heard. That’s why I came to FairVote: to help expand the conversation about how structural reforms can offer better collective governance. I’m particularly interested in how we can implement structural reforms that bring about more representation for women and minorities.
I don’t wear a blazer and pencil skirt to work. I don’t power walk down a hallway debriefing a Senator -- who's already late to a meeting about important new developments on Senate bill 1125 -- like I dreamed of when I was younger. While being a Fellow at FairVote might not be glamorous, I believe helping to start a conversation about democratic change is inherently more important.
Haley Smith, a 2015 Research Fellow at FairVote, graduated in 2012 from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and is currently finishing her M.A. in Political Science at the University of British Columbia. Do you want to apply for a FairVote Fellowship? Find more information here: http://www.fairvote.org/who-we-are/internships-and-employment/fellowships/