Ashton Collins Internship Experience
Interning for the Tea Party Patriots, even for just ten days while General Assembly is out of session, has truly broadened my knowledge of lobbying and the state legislation process. I came into this internship with a sound knowledge of the federal legislative system and a general idea of what lobbyists do during session. Over the past ten days, I have come to learn what it means to truly lobby before, during, and after session. I began working in the office by familiarizing myself with the Colorado legislative website and with the state representatives and senators. Republicans have House majority by one seat and Democrats have Senate majority by five seats. This split General Assembly makes passing bills an incredibly difficult feat not only for legislators but also for lobbyists. A bill which passes the House may immediately die in a Senate committee or even on the schedule. All the work that goes into drafting a bill, finding co-sponsors, assigning that bill to a committee, and gaining support for that bill in one house could be completely undone in a matter of days in the other house. Colorado’s split General Assembly has been very frustrating for Grassroots leaders and supporters who would like to see bills pass which mirror their ideals of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free markets. Until recently, I was unaware that our state judiciary system took such an activist role in legislation. This has also made it difficult for Grassroots lobbyists such as Tea Party Patriots to gain footing in legislation. With the upcoming election season, the judiciary system’s activist attitude may play a large hand in redistricting and reapportionment, swaying election outcomes. Not only do the Tea Party Patriots have to deal with fiscally irresponsible legislators, they also have to deal with a politically biased judiciary which may hurt the Republican standing in the General Assembly this next election season.
My greatest wish looking back on my time spent here at Tea Party Patriots for Denver is that I may one day become a Tea Party lobbyist and have an impact on what legislation is passed or killed. As I am headed off to college in Texas in the fall, I am unable to lobby here in Denver. However, I would urge any young, ambitious, government enthusiasts who support fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets to consider lobbying for Tea Party Patriots. Their goal is not to enrage legislators or to force their agenda upon them; rather, they wish to work side-by-side with legislators in a cooperative manner to keep them honest and true to their constituents and to the citizens of Colorado. Our country has seen many invasive governments practices come to fruition in the past few years; I find this the most pressing domestic issue in our country today. I believe the only way for the average citizen to reverse the expansion of our government is to create relationships with their state representative and senator. These are the people with whom the average citizen can gain the most ground in the legislative process. Before beginning my internship, I had a highly negative opinion of representatives and senators. I believed that they ran on a platform of cooperation and loyalty to their constituents and then turned their backs on their constituents once elected to suit their own self-interests. After meeting a few representatives, I have come to realize that this notion simply isn’t true. Representatives and senators want to hear from their constituents and they long for opinions on legislation. Too many voters feel that they simply can’t play a role in government. Voter registration is at a record low and opinion of government continues to decrease. Through my experiences I have learned that anyone can play an active role in government if they put themselves out there and actually have conversations with their elected representatives and senators.
In conclusion, I want to express my deep appreciation to everyone at Tea Party Patriots for Denver, especially Michael Short and Leah Parry. These are some of the most intelligent, passionate, and dedicated individuals I have met and I hope to one day work for them again. They have taught me what it means to take an active, rather than a passive role not only on pressing current issues but also in my life. As Michael Short taught me, you can’t just sit back and curse what you hear on TV or read in the newspaper, you have to go out and make a change. Taking a stand on an issue, no matter how large or small, can make all the difference in the world. Many small courses of action can turn into widespread change. I hope that all the Grassroots groups continue their work and continue to believe that they are making a change. In 1773, a group of angry colonists took action against invasive and unfair British rule by dumping loads of tea into the Boston Harbor. This simple act lead to one of the greatest revolutions in world history: the American Revolution, and eventually brought about American independence. This small act turned to great revolution should give hope to Grassroots groups everywhere that even a small group can bring about positive change. The Tea Party took on this mantra to signify this notion. I still believe wholeheartedly that Tea Party Patriots are slowly but surely bringing about positive change and are brightening what has seemed to me a bleak future in store for our country. I thank them for their work and the time they spent teaching me how to take an active role in my life.
Ashton Collins TPP Intern