If you work on Capitol Hill you see, hear, and overhear many things that the rest of the mortal world isn’t privy to. These privileged professionals that serve our US government acquire a wealth of knowledge that sometimes is just too good not to share. We’ve provided a platform on which they can unload.
Confessions Of A Capitol Hill Staffer
Ten Types of Congressmen You’ll Find On The Hill
People think working on Capitol Hill is like living inside a plot line from Scandal or House of Cards. When they think of these hallowed marbled halls, they envision swanky parties, intrigue, and glamour. They don’t understand that the reality of working here means defending our bosses against constituents outraged by their latest vote, promoting their legislative efforts to a disinterested media, and being severely underpaid to cater to their charming idiosyncrasies.
But like most things, working here is what you make of it, and your boss greatly determines what type of experience you’re going to have. For everyone on the outside looking in, here’s a list of the 10 types of Congressmen on Capitol Hill that can either make your career or break your spirit.
The Media Hound
You can’t turn on cable news without seeing the Media Hound’s face. His Snapchat stories are always two minutes long and chances are you’ve seen him around the Capitol Complex taking selfies between votes. No matter what the issue, he has something to say about it. His communications director became a Costco member just so she could buy Red Bull and wine in bulk.
The Policy Wonk
Some Members talk about policy, others actually write it. Nothing lights the Policy Wonk’s fire better than spreadsheets, research papers, and all things data. She knows her issues inside and out and is willing to go to the mattresses for her legislation. Small talk with her often includes the pros and cons of corporate inversions, leveling the tax code, and the balance between state and federal jurisdiction. Her legislative team will one day make bank in the private sector.
The Political Animal
Have you ever wondered where the inspiration for Frank Underwood came from? Watch the Political Animal at work for a day. He knows everyone, but more importantly, he knows everything about everyone. He brokers deals, is a master fundraiser, and moves seamlessly through all political and social circles. He’s a Congressional chameleon – all things to all people – and his tongue is insured by Geico for an undisclosed amount. Each person on his staff is a Nick Naylor in training.
The Clueless Congressman
His propensity for being persuaded makes him a lobbyist’s wet dream. He has zero legislative passions or ambitions, and the only thing he truly cares about is getting re-elected. He’ll find any excuse to get out of meetings for fear that his ignorance of everything will be publicly exposed. He hates being responsible for his voting record, so he polls the office, his family members, and random constituents for guidance on every vote. No one knows how he got elected, and his staff lives in constant fear of two things: losing their jobs and delivering vote recs.
Everyone in town knows his name and his reputation precedes him everywhere he goes. He can quote obscure laws and can give you a first-hand account of every major legislative battle from the past 40 years. He has the latitude to vote his conscience, the ability to take unpopular positions, and the balls to buck leadership. He’s a certified Congressional BA and his staff saunter around with a confidence that would make Regina George quake in her heels.
The True Believer
The disillusionment of Washington has never broken the spirit of the True Believer. If this idealist knows he can’t make a difference in this town, he’ll never let on. He gives impassioned speeches and frustrates his colleagues because ‘towing the party line’ has never been his priority. His staff is generally as disliked as he is.
The Wet Blanket
Probably based in a swing district and at constant risk of difficult primary and general election challenges, the Wet Blanket’s strategy is to play it safe. She is a faithful party vote and will put the kibosh on any controversial legislation. God help any Committee she chairs – it is destined to be ineffective and infuriating for staff, lobbyists, and the American public at large. Everyone on her staff is regularly looking for a new opportunity.
His constituents would have a hard time picking him out of a lineup, but he’s a staple on the DC social scene. He makes an appearance at every swanky event and is the center of a crowd at the hottest happy hours. He’s a regular at more than a dozen watering holes, knows the best restaurants for avoiding tourists, and would rather go golfing during recess than host town hall meetings. He has low staff turnaround because being a Washingtonian isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle.
The Rising Star
Young, attractive, smart, and tenacious are just a few of the words used to describe the Rising Star. She’s the future of her party. She has good ideas, she appeals to all demographics, and she incorporates new technology to her principled positions. Party leaders are throwing their support at her; high dollar donors are throwing their deep pockets behind her. Sans a scantily clad photo being ‘accidentally’ posted to social media, her staff is hitching their political futures to her trendy wagon.
The Citizen Legislator
Personal wealth and frustration with the ‘Washington Machine’ gave rise to the Citizen Legislator. He’s a well-to-do, likable Average Joe who was sick and tired of his small business being over-taxed by nameless, faceless bureaucrats in DC. One time at the community pot luck, he elegantly outlined his complaints, which were met by urges from neighbors to run for office. He hasn’t been able to achieve anything, but his constant criticism of Washington will keep him in office until his self-imposed term limit. His staff is unambitious and is resigned to working for city government back in the district when their Member leaves.