Policy, Politics and People
A Young Professional in DC
As I embarked on my trip to DC, the nerves and feelings of excitement consumed me. This trip was not only attended by much of Greater Des Moines’ (DSM's) influential leaders, but also came with the responsibility to represent my community on a national scale. The Greater Des Moines Partnership organizes this trip to take an active role in the direction of our country and it was not something I took lightly. DMDC attendees came from different industries, political backgrounds, and numerous areas of expertise. When I left my apartment on the day of our departure, I had to remind myself that I was invited on this trip because our city values the opinions of Young Professionals. DSM recognizes the value of new perspectives being heard to solve the problems facing our community. I walked on the plane as an individual with one perspective. When the plane landed in D.C. oddly enough, I never felt more connected to the people I had left behind.
The trip to D.C. afforded me the opportunity to attend two policy forums on issues facing our country. The first forum I attended revolved around healthcare and how current and proposed government legislation will affect people across the country. I attended this meeting because of my close connection with the Affordable Care Act. I have epilepsy and cost of my medications would have totaled $800 a month with my past company’s insurance had I not been able to stay on my parent’s plan until I was 26. Under my parent’s plan, I paid $12 a month and if that story doesn’t tell you our country has a healthcare problem, I don’t know what will. It was very apparent that the current administration is looking to make changes to repeal and replace the ACA with a Republican Healthcare bill that would make it easier for states and insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions more.
The conversation from the forum’s attendees centered around the current problems with the ACA and its cost to insurance companies which has forced them to narrow their networks limiting access to the best doctors in some areas. The talks were respectful and full of concerned individuals looking to tackle one of our country’s biggest issues head on. Sitting down next to people who were sharing ideas different from my own added a human element that allowed myself to share in the other’s experience of healthcare in America. One thing I learned from this forum is that this topic is not going away. Our country is one of the wealthiest in the world and the fact that people are forced to start Go Fund Me pages to pay for their cancer treatments is disappointing. As a country, we must continue to make effective and forward-thinking policy changes that will allow businesses to be competitive, but most importantly put the health of our nation first.
The second forum centered around immigration and how our country addresses citizenship. The conversation between the leaders of the American Immigration Council and the attendees were very open an honest. President Trump’s campaign promises to have Mexico pay for a border wall and two failed travel bans prompted great attendance at this session. The AIC is an organization that looks to demand a fair judicial process for immigrants, educate the American public on contributions immigrants make to the country, and use cultural exchange to connect American businesses with the global market of ideas and innovation.
I walked into this session expecting to hear representatives from the AIC with voices of concern and fear with the new administration now in power. As the session progressed, I realized this group was not one that could be intimidated easily and would be continuing to work towards their goals no matter what party held control of the White House. The attendees were educated on the path to citizenship and the deportation efforts our country currently engages in. I kept thinking back to a powerful YPC event I attended that centered around conversations with young refugees in DSM. Our members were face to face with young refugees living in DSM, understanding their struggle and their paths to success in our city. It left a impression on me and the person I am today. I understand with any issue like immigration there is a level order that needs to be maintained, but as a citizen of America I believe all people deserve a path to citizenship. This immigration problem will not be solved by one political party or candidate. All people deserve to have their voice heard on this topic, and we must continue to strive for immigration reform that best represents our morals as a country. I have faith in the AIC and our country that we will choose acceptance over fear.
As the trip concludes and I recount the new friends I have made and the conversations that have taken place. I realized the importance of trip bringing DSM to a global scale. If our leaders do not bring the voice of our community to the rest of the country there will be no progress. If we as a people are not willing to listen to those with opposing views, we will never truly be able to define our own opinions. This trip has shown me the value of a handshake and a true conversation. My generation and myself included has shown the propensity to share their personal beliefs via social media, but if this trip can be an example of one thing, it is that people must sit down to discuss the issues facing our community. Progress will not happen because one organization finds the answer to a problem. Progress is rooted in the people acting on ideas that best represent their community’s needs. When the plane landed back in DSM, it was no longer full of individuals with their own agendas. It was full of a team of people with a new perspective of what our city must strive for in the years to come. I am forever grateful to The Partnership for organizing this phenomenal trip and allowing Young Professionals Connection to share in it. It was an experience I will never forget and is one of the reasons DSM will always be the place I call home.