Proximity Matters: Inside the Heart of American Politics

October 24, 2023

In this episode, we delve into the intricate world of Capitol Hill as we follow the captivating journey of Dr. Casey Burgat, the Director of the Legislative Affairs program at the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University. Starting with his decision to pursue a Ph.D. in American Government at the University of Maryland, we uncover the twists and turns that led him to Washington, D.C., the heart of the nation's political landscape.

The Influence of Proximity: GW's Graduate School of Political Management

In the heart of Washington, D.C., just a stone's throw away from Capitol Hill, lies the George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM). 

The Hall of States, where GSPM is situated, isn't coincidentally located near the Capitol. The proximity to the epicenter of American politics serves as a magnet for students brimming with enthusiasm and a desire to participate in the political conversation. The physical presence of the political world, the politicians they see on TV, and the bustling political atmosphere provide students with an energy that sets them up for success.

Living in D.C. goes beyond mere involvement in the industry; it is an immersive experience. It allows students to witness politicians and policymakers in action, bringing a sense of urgency to their studies.

Capitol Hill, often perceived as an inaccessible fortress, is, in reality, open to the public. Anyone can walk into the House and Senate buildings, knock on the doors of elected representatives, and have a conversation. This accessibility is a testament to the openness of the political system. It's a place where citizens' voices can truly be heard.

Lobbyists, often misunderstood and vilified, play a crucial part in our system. Contrary to popular belief, their role is predominantly informational. With the complexity and breadth of issues lawmakers have to address, they simply don't have the capacity to be experts on every topic. Lobbyists step in to provide lawmakers and their staff with well-informed solutions.

Lobbyists are not the corruptive forces portrayed in popular media; their role is to advocate for their causes, which span the entire political spectrum. They act as voices for issues people are passionate about, whether it's climate change, gun control, or healthcare. Lobbying is essential to represent diverse opinions and ensure that voices are heard.

GSPM attracts students who are passionate about making a positive impact on society. The program helps them channel their enthusiasm and idealism into meaningful political action. Students are encouraged to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution in politics. The best among them are those who recognize the complexities of the issues and are open to collaboration, even with those they fundamentally disagree with.

In a world of polarized politics, the program fosters an environment where students can appreciate the myriad of perspectives and work towards common ground. Ultimately, the success of the students at GSPM lies in their recognition that there's no perfect answer, and politics is a never-ending battle to be better.

In summary, George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management provides students with a unique educational experience, harnessing their energy and passion for politics. The program encourages open-mindedness, collaboration, and a profound understanding of the political landscape, fostering the development of well-rounded and successful political professionals.