By Braden Carey February 13, 2019

Sometimes, when we see our politicians on television or online, they can seem like unreal entities. Similar to other people like rock stars, actors, and models, politicians can sometimes fall into a category of inaccessibility that we ascribe to our stars. It is for this reason that the concept of politics and by extension political action can seem at times difficult to break into.

Before I joined Defend Our Future, I had no idea how a Senator went about interacting with their constituents. I figured that one had to be an insider to affect political change and it would be impossible to get a message to my Senator. The prospect of actually writing a politician conjured up the image of those large mobile shredding stations you sometimes see outside office buildings.

All those preconceived notions went out the window when I went on an office visit for my internship with Defend Our Future. We met with the Regional Director of Northern Colorado-Eastern Plains for Senator Michael Bennet. His staffer sat down with us in a very relaxed setting and gave us his full attention to listen to Defend Our Future supporters’ concerns regarding climate action, engaging young people, and making fighting climate change a priority in 2019. As a representative for Senator Bennet, the staffer was able to write down our questions and concerns and give us his take on the Senator’s stance on the issues.

The most surprising aspect of this visit to me wasn’t that Senator’s staffer was so willing to meet with us, or so attentive with our time together, or even that he wrote down our requests to pass them on to Senator Bennet. The most surprising part of the visit was that this seemed to be a completely standard interaction. There is a pervasive idea that the barrier to entry for taking political action is so tough that many young people believe their voices will never be heard. After my meeting with Senator Bennet’s office and with my time with Defend Our Future, I know this is far from the truth, and I can’t wait to see what other experiences come this semester.

Braden Carey is a senior at Colorado State University.