Separating government and politics

Posted on February 5, 2008 by

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On Monday, February 4, Julie Vuckovich (regional director for Senator Evan Bayh) came to CHS to speak to Matt Furfaro’s honors government class. She was accompanied by Erin Hankins, a senior at Notre Dame who interns with Vuckovich.

Vuckovich began her work for the government in 1974 when she worked for John Brademas, a representative from Indiana. She spoke of the days when phone calls and faxes were very expensive, and contacting Congressmen was difficult. In the 1970s, then, Congress appropriated money for district offices.
“So people came in droves,” Vuckovich said. “I was there when Vietnam fell.” Today’s major concerns include immigration, the military and social security.
Her job in the government has less to do with politics, and more to do with servicing the people.

“What we do in district offices is try to be helpful for anyone in the regional district,” Vuckovich said. She likens her job as being the eyes and ears of the public, as well as being Congress’ caseworkers for all problems with the federal government.Erin Hankins, her intern, is a political science and peace studies major. She observes conflict and tries to analyze sources and solutions for conflict in the government. Some of her job includes listening to the public’s complaints and entering the information in a database. Often times, the public dictates how they want the Senator to vote. concerns, Hankins writes to anyAfter logging the public’s callers and e-mailers to acknowledge their concern, and perhaps offer a response to the issue.
“You’re taking the time, so we’ll take the time,” Hankins said.

Then the talk turned political. When Erica Todd (12) asked about the upcoming election, the mood of the talk quickly changed. Bayh has publicly supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential election, and Vuckovich and Hankins follow suit.
“I would like to see a female president in my lifetime,” Vuckovich said.
The class’s silence (due to their hatred of Clinton) may have been interpreted as political apathy. Vuckovich and Hankins changed the subject to the importance of young voting, as well as educated votes.
“Look into your candidates,” Hankins said. “Know what they stand for.”
Vuckovich doesn’t believe Super Tuesday will determine the fate of the primaries, and tries to remain positive that the Indiana vote can have a large impact.

“We get all these people voting for American Idols and you can’t go out and vote for your president?” Vuckovich said.

After some more voting encouragement, the talk turned to working for the government. The class was urged to check out http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/ to scan the list of government jobs available. The class of seniors was asked what they intend on pursuing in college, and then told that all jobs could be governmental.
“Everything is politically relevant,” Hankins said.

Evan Bayh’s recent activity was the last topic discussed, especially his tax breaks that may help for college students.
“[Bayh] is all about middle income families,” Vuckovich said.
Other activities include recruiting students on Make A Difference Day in Indianapolis for a special volunteerism efforts and debating the immigration bills. Bayh does not believe that building large walls and tighter security is the issue with immigration, but rather reforming the laws surrounding immigration.

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