DNC Intern Katie Rodihan ’14 Recounts the Mood in Washington, D.C., When Supreme Court Upheld Affordable Care Act

Katie Rodihan ’14, an intern for the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., was at the Democratic National Headquarters yesterday when the Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Katie reaches out to tell us more:

Democratic National Headquarters must have been one of the most exciting places in the world to be when the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, probably second only to the White House. For the half hour before Court released its opinion, my entire floor crowded around the TV and every computer in the room had SCOTUS Blog up. When we found out the Court ruled the individual mandate constitutional, the whole room filled with an overwhelming combination of joy, relief, and excitement. Looking around the room at people to whom this law meant so much, and thinking about politicians like Ted Kennedy, who dedicated their careers to passing universal health care, I started to cry. I don’t think I have felt that happy since the day I was accepted to CMC.
We were so excited. We ran down the street to the Supreme Court to show our support for the decision, and for the President. Outside the Court I talked with so many people who felt just as thrilled as I was. It was amazing to hear stories from people about the impact the Affordable Care Act will have on their lives. One man I met worked in the health insurance industry. He told me that his specific area of work would probably become nonexistent in 2014, and he would be unemployed. He supported the law, though, because his son had been diagnosed with cancer at age 36. Their entire family had to adjust their lives, not only to cope with the struggle of having a family member with a deadly disease, but also because of the ineffectiveness of his son’s health insurance coverage. In the end, his family managed to pay for the treatment, but he recognized that millions of Americans are not so lucky. His story was one of many I heard from Affordable Care Act supporters during the morning. Sometimes it is easy for me, as a student who wants to work in government, to feel discouraged by the record-low approval ratings of Congress, and by the immense partisanship that exists in government today. Nevertheless, after hearing more and more stories like the one this man shared, it is impossible to not feel immensely proud of what President Obama and Congress have accomplished. It was an inspirational time to be a government student.
Being in front of the Supreme Court during such a historic moment was amazing. Today made me realize what an influential city Washington, D.C., is, and that being here puts me right in the middle of American politics and news. At one point, Michelle Bachmann came out in front of the Supreme Court and gave a speech. I read a Los Angeles Times article later in the day that said, “At times, Bachmann (R-Minn.) was almost drowned out by supporters of the law calling for four more years’ of Obama.” I started that chant.
I will always cherish the memory of being present during such a momentous day in American history. I would not be here without the guidance and encouragement of professors at Claremont McKenna, or without the funding I received from the Center for Civic Engagement. The belief that CMC students are “leaders in the making” is apparent in all aspects of Claremont McKenna. CMC professors rarely speak in the hypothetical. They truly believe that we will be influential policymakers, lawyers, or politicians in the future. The connections that my professors make between what we learn in the classroom and what goes on in the real world are what motivated me to come to Washington, D.C., this summer, and experience politics firsthand. It is a natural complement to the pragmatic education I receive at CMC. The reassurance and inspiration I received from the College was what brought me outside the Supreme Court building, on a day I will tell my grandchildren about.

(Editor’s Note: While Rodihan was in Washington, D.C., on behalf of her internship at the DNC, here in Claremont, Calif., CMC professor Jack Pitney was called upon by a number of journalists on Thursday for Republican analysis on the Supreme Court’s decision. Pitney was interviewed by KFWB and NPR radio stations, and also was quoted in the Capitol Confidential. The Supreme Court decision gives opponents of the law “even more incentive to work hard for Romney,” he said.)