The National Taxpayers Union’s (NTU) Government Affairs interns are enjoying their eighth week at NTU headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. Government Affairs interns have the opportunity to attend hearings and meetings with NTU staff and Members of Congress, and participate in NTUF’s lunch discussion series, where interns meet with experts from many different fields and discuss current issues in public policy. Like NTUF, NTU takes a very holistic approach to their internship program, focusing on providing interns with the best skills and knowledge to make a difference in the world of public policy.
In the last of our intern interviews, we focus on NTU Government Affairs intern Michael Liguori. Michael is currently enrolled at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where he is pursuing a degree in International Relations and minors in Economics and Arabic. In the past, Michael has worked at an international agricultural development nonprofit, building inexpensive machines and tools to help improve subsistence farming output. Michael hopes to work in foreign affairs someday, and is particularly interested in diminishing the conflict in the Middle East and North Africa.
What have you most enjoyed about living and working in the DC area?
ML: Although I enjoy going to briefings and hearings on Capitol Hill, what really astounds me is what happens off the clock. I can sit in a coffee shop and hear State Department employees arguing over major international events, and I can brush past a former Speaker of the House while getting a burger
How did you become interested in politics?
ML: My parents are very freethinking people, and they encouraged me and my siblings to be as well. I was a curious kid, and if I asked them a question about what a Supreme Court decision in the news meant, they would tell me I had to figure it out on my own. We don’t have dogmas in my house, and that really left a lot of room for my beliefs to grow.
Who is your political hero?
ML: I get a lot of weird looks when I say it, but Malcom X. Even when I completely disagree with his writings and opinions (which happens quite frequently), I still recognize and admire that he was an uncompromising advocate against injustice. When other civil rights leaders sat down and stayed quiet, he stood up and shouted for justice under the law. No one could scare him into submission, and I can’t think of a courage that is more admirable.
What have you enjoyed about working at NTU?
ML: I’ve really enjoyed working with Federal Government Affairs Manager, Nan Swift, and getting to be at the Capitol so frequently. It’s a completely invaluable part of the experience as a Government Affairs Intern at NTU. My usual day consists of updating staff on state tax news, writing blog posts, and drafting vote alerts for bills such as the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act. In addition, if there are any relevant meetings on Capitol Hill that need to be covered, I handle those.
What have you learned which has most interested you while working at NTU?
ML: I’ve learned how convoluted and cryptic Congressional procedure can be. Most people don’t understand the nuances of the politics of passing a bill into law. One of the best examples I can think of to illustrate the intricate and unpredictable nature of Congressional politics is the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act. This bill passed the House of Representatives as a tax-decreasing bill. In the Senate, however, the Majority Leader added an unrelated amendment which increases taxes. After working at NTU, I have a much better understanding of Congressional proceedings thanks to the experience of attending hearings and collaborating with Nan and Brandon Arnold, NTU’s Vice President of Government Affairs.
Why did you choose to work at NTU?
ML: Although I generally focus more on foreign affairs, I wanted to get an understanding of Washington politics. The thought of taking people on tours and answering constituent phone calls for a Congressional office didn’t strongly appeal to me, so I chose to work at NTU. Working at NTU helps me understand the more substantive undercurrents that move politicians and politics.
Be sure to read our previous interview with research intern Catherine Fitzhugh.
Thanks to Catherine Fitzhugh for developing the Profiles in Liberty series and interviewing our interns.