Miss Dem

{August 9, 2008}   Lightning Bugs

11 August 2007

Lightning Bugs

As I made my way through the park at dusk this evening, on my way home from Union Station, a light caught my eye in my peripheral vision. In the middle of the nation’s governmental metropolis, a sole lightning bug danced in the growing evening. It was a subtle reminder that even in the midst of such urban sprawl, one can find something as fascinatingly simple as a lightning bug. A little bit of home all the way down here.

Last night, I decided it was time to learn how to get home from Union Station. From there, it is a straight (and short) red line Metro to work. Previously, I had been taking a convoluted trek from Eastern Market, on an Orange/Blue line. I knew it wasn’t much farther to walk to Union Station and the extra exercise every day would be just about as good as the savings on the Metro. So, I exited the train and forced myself to find a way home. And I did, though it was a bit trying at times.

Tonight was the first time I could truly enjoy the walk home. When I lived in Philadelphia, I was awed by the depth of history. I remember going to church one day with a friend and having them point out where Franklin and Washington used to sit so many years ago. Tonight, that same sense of awe crept in as I realized the magnitude of my new commute.

To my right, I could see the capital building lit up just a couple hundred meters away. To my
immediate left, a massive expansive building with Grecian columns peered down at me as it had
countless Americans before. “Equal Justice For All” read the inscription across the front of the
building. A woman, Athena I presume, sat with a sword in her right hand and a balanced scale in
her left peering out from the marble or concrete, alerting passersby that true justice was doled out
here. I stared for several minutes, pondering the irony and recognizing the important work
we all have to do to ensure that equal justice for all truly happens, and that justice for a select few
does not become the precedent that future generations look back upon.

As I proceeded between the two bodies of the government, I walked by the Library of Congress, the
Jefferson Building. Last weekend, I toured it to find the interior architecture, mosaics, paintings and
murals nothing short of breathtaking. Its sole purpose is to collect and share knowledge, regardless of
whether that knowledge is legal, artistic or even about cooking. I was quite blown away by the
magnificence of the building.

Our tour guide brought us to a small hideaway section of the library where several paintings had been
drawn at the start of this building. One showed government in its authentic state with the tree of
wisdom growing happily behind her, the economy flourishing and the people learned. Subsequent
paintings depicted different stages of government, one in which the tree of wisdom was nearly
dead and government was about to set fire to it. The concrete holding up government was crumbling
from corruption and businesses were squirreling away money from unjust business deals. Others
showed how a strong government foretold a strong economy and a utopian society where folks
enjoyed prosperity and knowledge.

So many years later, it hits so hard seeing what our forefathers truly meant
by good government, that of being of the people, by the people and for the people. I was moved by
these murals painted so long ago, and frankly it was the only time our tour guide seemed to really get
into what she talked about. It inspired her each time she talked about it, something that really shined

It is my rule that I visit at least one museum each weekend so that I can truly take in all the
aspects that our nation’s capital provides for its citizens, and not take for granted the city and the
government our forefathers carved out for us.

This new route to work ensures that while I am still (relatively) young, I can enblazen the
importance of the checks and balances that are to occur with all three branches of government. It
is critical to our future that neither branch be undermined by another, something that has begun to
happen, particularly with the Supreme Court.

Equal Justice For All… a reminder every morning and every evening why it is we do what we do every day.


{August 9, 2008}   interns

13 December 2007

America runs on… Interns

America runs on… interns

Step aside, Rachel Ray. America does not run on Dunkin, nor does it do so with the sweetness of a half-doughnut shared with mom (who shares a doughnut anyway?)

Nay, America runs on interns. While interns covet internships, what most people don’t realize until they are gainfully employed in the beltway is that…internships covet interns. That’s right, would-be interns, organizations and Congressional offices COVET you.

How many times have I seen interns dress up to the nines (we’ve all been there) in order to impress a would be boss. A boss, mind you, who is likely going to ask you to pick up Starbucks (I have yet to see a Dunkin Donuts anywhere) for her on the way to work. However, in a lot of instances, that boss will also be trying to impress you.

If you dress normal, seem intelligent and talk professionally, more than likely “you’re in.” Heed this knowledge, would-be java joggers, and consider carefully how to harness your new power.

There are benefits to working for your own Congressional delegation, however interested applicants should also be open to working for offices from other states. If you are looking to build relationships and street cred in your own state, by all means, work in a delegate office from your state (I’m biased toward our Maine Congressmen of course!) Often, staffers will be more inclined – and have more opportunity – to open doors for you if you are either from their state or attending school in that state.

However, you should be open to other offices. I’ve heard countless times of Congressional interns who spend their time opening and sealing constituent mail. Be bold enough to ask in advance what you can expect from your internship. Have you written for your school paper? Ask about being a press intern and make sure you will have the chance to write news releases and OpEd pieces during your tenure at the office. If you don’t speak up, you might end up with you’re a sticky tongue full of paper cuts.

While you work on the Hill, be sure to WORK THE HILL. That’s right, attend the after-hour events (if you’re over 21 of course), invite people to coffee and be sweet to the person standing next to you in the lunch line. You never know who you’re talking to when you’re talking to a stranger. It could be another intern, or it could be someone’s chief of staff. Everyone’s young in this city so don’t make assumptions. These connections could well lead to a paid position, and often they do.

For folks interested in specific policy or program areas, I strongly recommend looking into non-profit organizations. Most are located right in the city or close to Metro stops making it an easy commute. Non-profits are less likely to have a formalized intern program and they often get looked over by
prospective interns in favor of Hill internships. This less formal structure often allows more time for
one-on-one work with a manager on a specific program project. And, as non-profits are often in dire
need of extra hands, you’ll be in a better position to take on higher-level project work.

The important thing, again, is to be clear about what you are looking for in an internship. Think about
what you are looking to do when you graduate, and what portfolio pieces prospective employers will
want to see.

If you’re interested in design, make sure you have the chance to design materials. (And be sure they are
printed before you leave, or at least that you are able to have copies sent to you after the fact.) If you
are interested in media relations work – and there is plenty of it on the hill – be sure you have the chance to
ghost author an OpEd or write some news releases. You get the idea…

When you go into an interview, be sure to follow all normal interview protocols. Be on time, or call
if the Metro is stuck as it often is. (www.wmata.com is a great way to figure out your route.) Dress
professionally and of course be polite and professional. Thank people for their time, blah, blah, blah.

But, also have a list of questions about the internship. Ask outright what your supervisor/manager
intends for you to walk away with. And it never hurts to tell them that you are considering a few
internships and want to find the one that is the right fit for you. (This implies you should be considering
multiple internships, btw.) This is especially effective in the non-profit environment where the
manager you are interviewing with probably is looking for five interns and hoping for one.

As we move into an election year, the need for intern help will only grow in intensity leaving you in a
very good position to find one that gives you the boost you need to land a great job when you graduate.

Again, if you come across normal (please don’t yell into the phone to exude enthusiasm…) and
professional, chances are you WILL be hired. So be sure to take time and outline with your
prospective manager what you want to get out of the internship.

Finally, don’t be afraid to come to DC in search of an internship. As long as you have your housing
lined up and your professor is amenable, it will actually pay dividends for you to look for the right fit
while you are here. There are intern postings nearly every place you look and transportation to intern
interviews is easy with the Metro system. The House publishes a substantial, print-only listing of all
available vacancies each week. Three quarters of it is filled with listings for interns.

America runs on… interns and everyone in this city knows it. Use that knowledge to find the internship
that is right for your career goals.

Good Luck!


~ MissDem

{August 9, 2008}   i am sam

i am sam; an interview

20 August 2007

There are humble folks in the world, folks who are truly committed to creating empowerment opportunities for real people. It’s rare, however, to find someone so grounded that they can work in the White House, throw names around that most of us would gush at, and still, still maintain a deep sense of humility.

Starting his career out of a desire not to be penned into a boring cubicle with gray walls, Maine’s Democratic National Committeeman, Sam Spencer, has journeyed from Standish to the White House and then onto the quaint neighborhood of Portland’s West End. Regardless of which stops he made along the way, the walls were hardly ever gray.

“I graduated from college and I wasn’t ready to go work in a cubicle. Most of my classmates were getting jobs on Wall Street and in consulting. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to do that,” says Sam. “It was 1996 and I graduated that summer. President Clinton was running for re-election and I knew someone on the campaign. I got a job doing advance work on Clinton’s campaign going around the country for a while and running his motorcades. And then, I ended up in
the White House when he was elected.”

For Sam, it was a bit of a coming home. At 16, he served as a Senate page and his grandfather, a Republican, served as the mayor of DC many years before. While the political landscape has most assuredly changed repeatedly throughout the short history of the US, there are certain parts of the District that have served as inspirations to countless folks committed to serving the public.

“I really liked to run along the mall,” says Sam. “When I was a page, I loved to run from the capital to the Washington Memorial to the Lincoln and then over the bridge to the Jefferson Memorial. It was really inspiring. I love DC.”

As fate would have it, or in this case the courts, Sam’s presence in DC the second time around would
not be as long as most of us Democrats would have hoped. Three people were responsible for managing Al Gore’s pre-election transition planning and hires for the prospective new vadministration, one of the most critical responsibilities for an incoming president. Sam was one of them.

“All the files for Gore’s transition are sitting in some boxes on Pine Street,” he laughs, a bit ironically.
But for all the disappointment we all felt in 2000, Sam appears to be doing fine nestled into his place
on the West End of Portland.

“I left Maine and I always knew I’d come back,” says Sam. “I love the people, I love Portland and I
love the whole state. It was always my intention to come back and contribute to the state.”

“Now I have my own company [as a real estate developer] and I’m trying to do what could be a
large-scale redevelopment of the mills in Biddeford,” he says. “It’s quite an incredible location, right
along the Saco River.”

But even as the real estate bug has bitten Sam, he maintains a strong passion for politics. Committed
to engaging real people in the Democratic Party, Sam reaches beyond the inner circle of the party to
bring new perspectives and fresh insight to the national level.

His personal mission is to reach out to the very real people who are affected by the decisions made
countless miles from where his people cast their vote. “Democrats are the party of the people,” he
says, “the party that cares about everyday Americans, cares about the issues that I care about like
health care, the environment and a strong middle class.”

“When I first got to the Democratic National Committee, I asked who I should vote for as Chairman
of the Party. A lot of insiders were upset that I voted for Howard Dean, but the rank-and-file members
were overwhelmingly in favor of him,” says Sam. “And that’s how I voted. I try to do it for the benefit
of the broader group and not for a small group of insiders. I hope that makes me different from the
rest of the insiders around the country.”

For such a controversial decision, popular sentiment clearly paved the way for the current successes of
the Democratic Party. Deans’ 50 State Strategy has since created investments in the roots of the party,
and not just the green grass, the affects of which has pushed back against the tidal wave of hipocrasy.

It is precisely this type of populist sentiment that often forces would-be average Joes and Janes into
the spotlight of elected office. In fact, such respected Dems as Edmund Muskie and Tom Allen have
both served as Committeeman begging the question of Sam’s future aspirations. “I love being the
Democratic National Committeeman because it allows me to be in politics on a part-time basis and be
involved,” says Sam. “I love being in business and will probably want to stay there.”

Then again, he’s only thirty-four…

~ MissDem

{August 9, 2008}   2007 Birthday Blog

9 August 2007 Birthday & Website Launch Blog

Today is my birthday. I am turning 31 in the nation’s capital, far away from the world I know and love
in Maine. With few friends around with whom I can celebrate this venture beyond 30 and into the
world of 30-something, I opted to create my own birthday present where I can finally share my worldview with my friends, both online and off. . . in a format that reflects my personal style a bit better than previous postings could showcase.

As loyal readers are aware, I started this little diatribe about a year and a half ago. What began as a humble MySpace profile rather blossomed into a quasi-daily spewing of political observations, information sharing and a general goal of connecting with folks who share my Progressive vision for
the future of this country – and of our state.

Going forward, I will be cross-posting this blog on my traditional MySpace spot until folks get accustomed to scoping out this spot instead. In recent months, I have worked diligently to upgrade the content and expand my horizons. Currently, I am in the process of interviewing some movers and shakers in the party whose contributions are felt but may not necessarily be heard. Some up and
comers are on the way as well as some folks who have been long-time activists.

As we move toward the 2008 election, Maine has a couple of high-profile races currently under way,
far outside the scope of the presidency. Rep. Tom Allen is vying for Sen. Collins seat, and by golly by the end of next year I’d like to see things get mixed up a bit with an outcome of Sen. Allen. As Tom vacates his seat in the Southern District in an effort to inspire the entire state, several venerable folks are criss-crossing the southern District in the hopes of filling his shoes.

It is my hope to bring the candidates to you in a meaningful manner while also ensuring you know how to reach the candidates so you can meet them and discuss the issues that are important to you. As such, I will continue posting information on the Congressional District race as it becomes available. Currently, I do not have a CD1 section outside of the sub-category in the blog section. That will change
as I get this site a bit more orderly in the near future. I hope to have a CD1 button at the top of the
home page in the next week or two. Under this section, I’ll post updated YouTube videos,
campaign announcements, etc.

In the interim, please be sure to visit the Events section as this already has a sizable number of
upcoming events. If you know of more that should be included, please send them directly to me at
missdem [at] missdem.com. I will post as quickly as possible.

Finally, I will do my best to keep the Action Items section up to date. As job announcements or
volunteer requests come in, I will post them here for folks to peruse. Fear not, I’ll put a brief
announcement on the front page. If something comes up in the news, as is on the page currently, that
requires attention or a response, I will post that as well. Hopefully, by providing some finite tasks,
we can work together to move our vision for Maine forward effectively.

Oh! The color… I am hardly a master web designer. Quite the contrary in fact. So, I searched and
searched for blue template pages from which to work. Alas, there were not any that satisfied my
desire for clean design, and the ‘political’ ones were all status quo. So, I decided to break out from
the mold a wee bit and embrace one of my favorite colors. On the streets, I’ve heard folks say that
brown is the new black. Well, here, it’s the new blue.

So, welcome to my new home. I am rather awestruck that so many folks have begun to actively read
this diatribe on life and politics. It’s rather inspiring in and of itself that I should be putting this on a
web site of its own. In the next week, I will be working to categorize all my archived blogs and get
them on the site. For now, all the blogs are still archived at http://www.myspace.com/mainedems.

{August 9, 2008}   2008


Originally Published

9 July 2007

The drumbeat started incredibly early this year with candidates out and about vying for votes. Would be Senators, Congresspeople and Presidents are off chanting their mantras, pounding the pavement and
circulating video footage of babies being kissed and stumps being speeched.

We talk about 2008 as though it were today. It’s as if 2007 isn’t even afforded a space on the messaging
screen, despite it being the fundamental piece to the upcoming campaigns.

So what is 2008 about anyway? There are theories from bobbleheads and talking points from spin-masters and spin-mistresses. I figure it’s time I weigh in with my humble analysis of the 2008 … er 2007… election.

Folks are off and running with regard to the Iraq War and Impeachment, countless people promoting this as the be all and end all issue of the coming election. I disagree. I see it as part of a broader issue.

We have lost faith in our government. And, considering our government is “Of the People, For the People and By the People,” we are the government. Essentially, we have lost faith in ourselves.

The current administration has intentionally underfunded governmental programs, or reinvented their
purpose altogether (see Brownie’s testimony to Congress). This reenvisioning of governmental programs has limited the overall effectiveness of our government. Combine that with serious corruption and corporate interests over the interests of people, and folks are fed up. We feel as though we have lost our way.

Candidates who speak to people about restoring faith in government will resonate immediately. The issues of the War and impeachment fall underneath this issue of restoring faith in government. They are pieces of the broader puzzle.

The second primary issue that will resonate in 2008 is that of health care. Americans are ready for
single-payer, universal health care – if properly implemented. Currently, presidential candidates are
promoting several versions of universal health care, none of which appear to me to be single-payer. We
continue to stop short of doing the right thing for fear of corporate interests. The paid lobbyists continue
to tell us that we’re not ready for single-payer health care for all Americans. We, as Americans, buy into
this rhetoric because we have lost faith in our government’s ability to do its job adequately. If we restore
faith in our government, it will be the natural evolution to have government responsible for our health care
delivery system.

We, as Democrats, must stop buying into the rhetoric presented to us from across the aisle. It is time for
single-payer health care, and the American public is ready for it. We’re just too damn scared to put
ourselves out there and put forth a vision of what life under Progressive policies would look like.

It is time to stop talking about all the Bushite things we are AGAINST and start creating a vision FOR the
future, a vision that resonates with real people. It’s time we started proposing bold, innovative legislation
that, yes, will piss off the insurance lobbyists in Augusta and DC. We can do that by framing our vision as
part of an overall commitment to rebuilding our government in the image of its people, not corporate

{August 9, 2008}   about miss dem

From diatribes on life in general to interviews with prominent Maine Progressives, The Mysterious Miss Dem’s blogs are meant to bring together activists, astute voters and general idealists who share the goal of working for the common good. To that end, I work hard to avoid anti-Bush banter, choosing instead to focus primarily on issues that affect real people, and what we can do to address those issues. I prefer idealistic action over cynical stagnation. And, this isn’t simply some online personality; it’s something I actually put into practice.

This blog began in the Spring of 2006 as a MySpace profile designed to reach out to Maine Democrats during the 2006 campaign as a means for building a socical network by which information could be shared. Over time, the readership has increased to a point where loyal readers are reviewing the blogs daily. And as I’ve begun to blog more in response to the increased audience, the MySpace format became far more limiting for the types of material I wanted to continue to produce. For a while, I wrote on a dedicated web site, but the HTML coding took a bit more time than I had to contribute. Not to say that I can’t code (I confess, I’m no expert, but…). Coding just takes a lot of time. So, I’ve once again adapted to life and changed platforms. Perhaps if I find myself with a lot of time on my hands, I’ll go back to coding but that doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon. So, welcome to the newly launched (again) blog of MissDem, the accidental advocate.
why the mystery?

While this blog certainly represents my personality and my opinions, the goal is to bring people together as a collective “We.” Revealing my identity makes this blog entirely about “Me” instead of bringing folks together around a Progressive vision.�

et cetera