Charlotte Jonkman, Intern
Despite dealing with sickness, unexpected trips to the vet with my 15-year-old dog, and a notoriously unreliable car along the way, I have reached the end of my summer here at the League. Over the past few months I have learned a great deal through research, experience, and interaction with the wonderful people I have worked with. Specifically, the latter part of my summer was spent researching our state legislature and its 148 members, in addition to the large swath of new members we will elect in November. As you might expect, digging into the policy priorities of the hundreds of candidates hoping to represent their communities in 2019 has been simultaneously frustrating and inspiring.
Above all else, my work in this area has reaffirmed the vital importance of using the vote, strategically, to affect informed, positive change. This fall, many Michiganders will use their vote to elect legislators relentlessly dedicated to advancing policies that improve the lives of working people, pursuing the goal of equity and justice for all. In contrast, others will review their limited options and vote defensively, hoping to prevent further damage to our state’s depleted public services and insufficient protections for vulnerable communities.
Whether you have the opportunity to vote for an inspiring candidate focused on positive change or find that your best option is voting for the dreaded “lesser of two evils,” it is important to remain goal-oriented and energized as we move toward November. The composition of our state and national legislatures is invaluable in advancing the priorities we all hold dear – from expanding health care access to protecting labor’s right to organize to adequately funding our public education system. Find out who is running in your district, visit their campaign websites, review their voting records and policy priorities, and head to your polling station with a clear vision of how your vote will advance economic and social justice in Michigan.
Of course, our work neither begins nor ends on November 6. Our power as members of a free and democratic society is not limited solely—or even primarily—to the vote. My time at the League has reminded me that, amidst the seemingly unending deluge of upsetting news from Lansing and D.C, positive collaboration is still occurring every single day between groups and communities working toward positive change outside of electoral politics. So many people dedicate their lives to pursuing forward progress in the policy areas we care about and, after a summer spent with such a group of individuals, I look forward even more eagerly to doing so myself. As it turns out, working at a place like the League, with people who not only possess a depth of knowledge in public policy but also care deeply about the people of Michigan, is the best antidote to the negative news blues.
Finally, I would like to briefly thank everyone at the League for welcoming and encouraging me throughout the summer. In particular, I want to thank Rachel Richards for bringing me on, putting me to work, and helping me out whenever I needed it. I had a fun and educational experience and intend to continue following the important work the League does in Michigan.