By Anna Seefeldt
The allure of New York City is clear: a city rich with opportunity and diversity, addicting in its promise of success and new beginnings. I was told that once I lived here, I would never want to leave. I can honestly say that now I understand why.
Known for it’s steep price tags and casual luxury, Manhattan is nonetheless a city of juxtaposition. Middle aged men with Rolexes draped on their wrists walk by the homeless on their beds of cardboard in the Financial District. Frat bros pass monks in Central Park. People of every race, religion, and socioeconomic class all squeezed together on one island, a mere twenty-two square miles. More than just a land of opportunity, it’s a glance into extremes.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was drawn to New York largely because of its reputation, as well the possibilities that could arise from having worked here and experienced firsthand the current political climate. For a political science student like me the opportunity to work at Red Horse Strategies, a political consultancy firm based in the DUMBO neighbourhood of Brooklyn, was one I couldn’t pass up. Since I started interning four weeks ago I’ve been tossed into this fast-paced work environment headfirst, a thrilling one characterized by high pressure and tight deadlines. The opportunity to staff politicians, work on congressional elections (especially one that ended up in a nationally acknowledged upset), state elections, and the upcoming attorney general election has allowed me to see the inner workings of campaigning. Working here has also shown me the vast discrepancies between American and Canadian politics. Opportunities we may take for granted at home, like same-day voter registration, are not afforded to citizens in New York. The sheer number of elections is also astounding: there will be at least ten elections here in 2018. This alone causes a shift in both how people view politics, and how offices such as mine are run.
Working with some of the candidates running for office has restored some of my faith in politics, which I can honestly say after completing four years of my political science degree, was seriously waning. Assemblywoman Ari Espinal is a prime example of a person who cares deeply about the district she represents and wants to create lasting impact to better the lives of those in the 39th district, and has impacted my view on politics. We need more strong, empowered, and intelligent women like Ari in power to shape the future. Watching her make a genuine effort to interact with every single person across her path while canvassing reminded me that not everyone wants power simply so they can profit and rise through the ranks. Despite the corruption and lies we so often associate with the current political climate and the deeply jaded perspective that some (admittedly myself included) have, people do exist who truly just want to help create a better life for those around them.
New York is a city where I’ve been able to see another side of American politics, one where many people are actively trying to take a stand against hateful policies. I doubt I could be persuaded that President Trump isn’t somehow in bed with Russian politicians or that there aren’t massive systemic problems with policy in America, but I can promise you that I’ve met some pretty incredible people fighting with everything they’ve got to change that.