Thursday, April 30, 2009

Adventures in Political Lobbying

This is a true story.

For the first half of this week I was in D.C. lobbying with a group called Students Advocating for Graduate Education (S.A.G.E.). In less than the span of two days I met with representatives from over 15 different state offices, the last of which being someone from Rep. Michele Bachmann's office.

While we were sitting in Ms. Bachmann's office, the wall-mounted tv screen showed a live feed of the house floor, where debate over Hate Crimes legislation was taking place. I took comfort in knowing that gay-hater Bachmann would not be in her office as long as she had a chance to gay bash in front of a captive audience in the house (just one day prior she was there comparing us to pedophiles).

So my friend Jasmine and I were talking to the very pleasant Bachmann rep, when all of a sudden, like a bat out of hell comes Bachmann, storming into her office with urgency (perhaps she was being chased by an angry pack of lesbians). She whisked past us but then froze directly in front of me, extended her hand and chirped "Hi I'm Michelle, thank you so much for taking the time to visit my office!" To her credit, she was incredibly sweet and charming and delightful (still batshit crazy, but also pleasant as a freshly baked sunshine cake). I threw up in my mouth a little bit when I heard Jasmine ask "Could we get a picture with you?". To my surprise Bachmann said "Oh, I don't have much time, but I do think we have just a minute to take a picture." So that's what we did, and Michele made nice small talk with us as we posed for the camera.

I decided the whole experience was just too surreal for me not to have fun with it. I was pleasant, smiled, and thanked Ms. Bachmann for her time and for the photo op. It was the Catholic thing to do, I figured. Plus I was feeling pretty confident that the hate crimes legislation was going to pass, which felt very satisfying as I stood next to this woman who has said some of the most hateful things I've ever heard spoken about LGBT persons such as myself.

Overall the trip was an amazingly powerful experience. I left D.C. with the assurance that I truly do have a role to play in democracy.


Matt Algren said...

I'm actually a little surprised that the picture turned out. I didn't think she could be photographed.

Jeff said...

Matt - good one. :)

She's definitely a cartoon.