Year 12 student, Daniel Blunt, recently undertook an internship in a US senator’s office. Here, he describes the experience.
Year 12 student, Daniel Blunt, began the year with an eye-opening experience: a two-week internship in the US Senate in January, coinciding with the lead-up to the Federal Government shutdown. The internship involved supporting the media team of Democratic junior senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the representative for Rhode Island. Along with the chance to work directly with the Senator’s team, the experience was also an opportunity for Daniel to see daily activity in the US Senate up close during a critical period.
“It was a very dramatic time in a political sense,” Daniel explains. “Plus, while inside the senate itself, I would sometimes end up walking alongside people like Elizabeth Warren and Ted Cruz. It’s a crazy experience watching reporters swarm them.”
Daniel’s interest in progressive politics aligned with many of Senator Whitehouse’s policy areas, including his focus on climate change. “Rhode Island residents are literally seeing their shoreline disappear,” Daniel says. “One of the things I was working on was the senator’s 200th ‘Time to Wake Up’ speech. Senator Whitehouse gives these speeches every week on the Senate floor to bring attention to climate change issues.”
Along with exposure to the daily demands of the US Senate, Daniel says the experience underscored the degree to which special interest groups influence American politics. “Senator Whitehouse doesn’t have to deal with the same level of lobbying as other States, where voting is heavily influenced by interest groups. An exorbitant amount of spending goes into campaigns. In some ways you could say it’s disheartening.”
Alongside his academic commitments, Daniel holds roles of Captain of Morris House, Chair of the Values in Action Committee and 2018 organiser of the annual ‘Walk for Women’ event.
But formal study of politics is not on the agenda – at least for now. “Politics is one of the things I spend a lot of time doing outside School,” he says. “I’m studying a range of different things now.”
Beyond Year 12, Daniel will be applying for courses in Australia and overseas. “I’d love to study political science in the US or do PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) in the UK,” he explains. “A long way down the line I’d like to go into politics, but I don’t want to be a career politician.”