Hello! My name is Gabriel Trujillo Lederer; I’m the new intern in the Outreach department. I’m a rising junior at the College of William and Mary, pursuing a degree in government with a minor in economics and my eyes set on law school. Bethesda Maryland is my home, where I have lived since I was 7. Scouting was a passion of my younger self, and I had the privilege of becoming an Eagle Scout one day before the deadline. In my free time I love to run, wrestle, announce for sporting events and pretend I know what I’m talking about when it comes to film. My favorite movie is “In Bruges”, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri “ should have won best picture (I’m still annoyed about it) and I will never watch “Full House” ever again.
The 2016 election had a profound effect on my view of politics and how I eventually ended up at FairVote -- not just the outcome, but the entire year leading up to the the final count. At the time, I was in a liberal arts college in southern Virginia, but the college turned into something of a battleground in the months leading up to the election. Everywhere I went I saw people divided by the same issues, unwilling to debate and unwilling to compromise.
This was paralleled by the same people I saw on my television and computer screen, their debates lead nowhere and accomplished even less. All I heard were vague promises of policy followed by half-baked insults that would be played on repeat throughout the week, with each side claiming to have won a great victory. It felt like there was nothing I could do to mediate between my friends and family. While at the time, I had a realist worldview when it came to politics. I couldn’t shake the little voice of optimism in my head that told me despite everything, there were enough ethical leaders to look out for the public.
In the winter of my sophomore year I decided to take a seminar on the William and Mary DC campus. As a reflection of my realist view of government, I took a course called “ American Politics; A Government for the People?”. It was a course that showed the various ways of how our government is unresponsive to the people’s needs. This was shown through various speakers who presented their work to improve the government. These speakers ranged from a watchdog group to a tax attorney to a NRA spokesman, however one speaker left a lasting impact on me.
Drew Spencer Penrose, FairVote’s legal and policy director, gave a remarkable presentation on an ambitious reform that could solve a wide array of issues that the nation faces. In essence, what he proposed was a change in our electoral system, away from single-winner congressional districts to a more proportional system which would better reflect the electorate. Voters would no longer be afraid of “wasting” their vote on a favored third party candidate, which might siphon off enough votes to allow an unwanted candidate to win. This electoral system would change the way we debate politics; politicians would concentrate on their policies instead of their opponent’s shortcomings. The public would now be incentivized to convince the opposition instead of vilifying them.
In short, this system would help the public elect and create more ethical leaders. It was the simple solution that would help ameliorate some of the institutional problems that I had noticed over the past couple of years. The optimist in me was immediately sold; I needed to do whatever I could to help. A few days later I sent in my application for an internship at FairVote.