Senator Reed Interview: Penn
May 16, 2018
In Spring 2018, the University of Pennsylvania chapter successfully advocated for SNAP funding as well as U.S. strategy in the Middle East. On a Capitol Hill event on April 12th, the staff members met with staffers from the Offices of Senator Udall, Casey, Johnson, and Kaine and conducted one-on-one interviews with Senator Reed and Congressman Brady. Summary of what we learned from Senator Reed is provided below:
The time spent interviewing Senator Reed proved extremely enlightening. The Senator told us about why he chose to serve. It began with a love of his parents, who as members of the “greatest” generation gave their all for the United States. They imbued him with a sense of service and a desire to help his country. His love of military history made him want to serve in the U.S. Army, and at the age of 12 he told his parents he would go to West Point. Years later, he fulfilled this dream. After West Point he served as an officer in the Paratroopers for eight years before going to the Harvard Kennedy School. He has spent his life serving, as it was what his parents taught him to do. For the Senator, service was a legacy instilled in him. It was heartening to talk to a man who not only talked about but also lived a life driven by a strong desire to serve.
Senator Reed also believes that there are two important take away from school: 1) you’re not the smartest person in the room, get used to it and learn to listen and 2) questions matter, your temperament is more important than your intellect. In addition to such pieces of genuine advice, Senator Reed expressed regret that his generation has failed the preceding generations. Specifically, it failed to imbue those that followed with a sense of service and a feeling that the government can be made to serve the interests of the people - not some sort of enemy. His words had so much meaning given today's heated and divided political climate.
But he feels that there has been a revitalization in public service in the wake of the tragedy at Parkland High School and subsequent activism of student population. Finally, he concluded with an explanation for his vote against the Iraq War. He explained that the facts simply did not add up, and as a member of the Aspen Institute, he was exposed to multiple leading Security figures who warned against an invasion with no plan for an occupation. He brought that back to us, the students of today, with a warning to not get caught up in the moment but rather to let facts and well-thought out reasoning guide us. Senator Reed concluded with words of hope and optimism for the future of America.