THE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
I was distressed to read of the demise of the House of Representatives' summer internship program. As an intern last summer with Rep. George Bush (R-Texas), I consider the experience to have been one of the best I have ever had in learning the process of government first-hand, and I regret others will be deprived of this opportunity.
But the elimination of funds for the program should not be viewed as some crazed action of an economy-minded Congress. Although cost was cited as the reason for the cut-off, the chief determinant for the House's action was the irresponsible action of many of last summer's interns who circulated anti-war petitions among themselves. During those days, Congressmen from marginal districts lived in dread of discovering that their intern had taken steps which the folks back home would not find acceptable. It is understandable that the Representatives voted as they did last Monday: out of sheer self-protection.
The petition-pushing interns should not be handed only part of the blame: they deserve it all. Actually, the episode eloquently illustrates not so much their "alienation" from the power structure as their utter misunderstanding of how to affect it all. At a time when the vacationing campus activists were but a few paces from a man with whom they could speak and get his attention (namely, the Member), they worked themselves up over an anti-war petition to-- of all people--Lyndon Johnson. The anger expressed by some interns at the President's refusal to meet with them and receive their policy-shaking set of signatures struck me as incredibly naive. I do not mean to infer that last summer's interns should have attempted to lecture to their Congressmen, soberly and articulately discussing with him matters of interest, would have been the most effective action they could have taken.
The essential lesson to be gained from this affair applies to Washington Marchers and Dow Squatters as well as Congressional interns: that today's student activists will continue to find themselves impotent in affecting public affairs until they begin to concentrate more on learning some basic politics instead of the lyrics to old civil rights songs. Charles G. Untermeyer '68