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My Internship at the Libertarian National Committee

My Internship at the Libertarian National Committee
Irena Schneider
President of American University Students for Liberty

It’s hard to imagine that after three months, my time at the Libertarian Party is coming to a close. As all kinds of final moments necessitate some time for reflection, I can think of the many tasks I’ve taken on and wonder what kind of palpable impact I may have had in the political arena. What was my stake in this wonderfully freedom-loving, persevering party?

I have sent countless craigslist ads to prospective libertarian volunteers throughout the country. I have personally called over half of the counties in Missouri gathering records of libertarian candidates. I’ve gone on missions to reach out to people at CPAC and the DC tax day tea party. I have watched a sort of magic happen on the screen in front of my eyes as I typed into a database the hundreds of names of prospective candidates for local, state, and national office screaming from office excel: “We are tired! We want to take America back! What can I do? What can I do, what can I do!”

I realized in the midst of this venture that I was wielding perhaps the most important tool of our democracy. In the U.S, decision-making rests not in our leaders, but in our people. If we the people lose touch with Capitol Hill, what hope will we have in checking the bureaucrats and congressmen encapsulated by their own inevitable strain for power? Power is most comfortably exercised when you can hear the voice of a constituent – and boy did I gain a sense of it. The best part of it was that every second in this office was geared to giving the power back to the people, in protecting the country that we know and love with honor, rationality, wit, and creativity.

In all endeavors where the vision behind our tasks seems far removed in the distance, I can’t seem to point to one moment and dictate its effect on me as a person. I came in as a leader of a student liberty organization, but I can’t say I understood what that really meant until I passed through the Libertarian Party. Austin Petersen told me he’d teach me how to effectively work with people. And after days of sitting back in the office with the small team watching liberty videos and documentaries, joking around, cutting in the back and forth of live discussion and tempering with the philosophy of liberty, something clicked. I took to reading – I researched issues from eminent domain and zoning to baskets of currency and pollution. Some of my work went to the hands of local politicians as a blueprint for future policy. Every day I was held accountable for my work; I understood very quickly that being here was a greater learning experience than I had imagined. I reexamined the barriers I faced at own student club at American University and asked myself what Austin had always asked me: “So what have you done to work around this?”

A vision is pressing – whether you are running a third party or your own organization. I began to feel the urgency of my own ambitions, and I learned how to walk in greater strides – make the extra phone calls, compile the extra lists of support, follow back with the extra emails, send the extra thank you notes. I have now met and networked with top leaders in politics and academics – and I have come to shed the insecurities in talking to them. It’s all people work, after all. I learned how to distinguish myself as someone who will, at the end of the day, get it done.

The people at the Libertarian Party have been the greatest, wackiest, and kindest professional family to me. Never once have I felt insignificant or disrespected. Instead, they have made me understand how important I am to the future of liberty. I can now count on them as my backup in all my future ventures. Once they get you thinking and working, you can only go higher. Wherever liberty takes me, I will always remember the welcoming stepping stone the Libertarian Party placed in my path.