All semester long, students in Assistant Professor of Political Science Zachary Oberfield’s “American Political Process: The Congress” course have gone deep into the U.S. legislature, analyzing its policy-making processes and distribution of power and influence through books, articles, and class discussions. But on Wednesday, April 6, Congress came to them when Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) visited class to talk about what’s it’s like to be a member of the House of Representatives.
Meehan, whose district includes part of the Haverford campus, talked about the concept of public service and the error of considering a body made up of 435 individuals as a monolith. The former prosecutor also mentioned taking a similar class on Congress—taught by the current junior senator from Maine, Angus King, Jr.—during his time at Bowdoin College. Meehan’s time in class, however, was mostly spent answering questions from the students—about partisanship, polarization, the influence of wealthy donors, and drawing district lines.
“I thought the visit went great,” said Oberfield, who invited Meehan to his class. “He was thoughtful and candid and the students asked good questions. I hope students will come away with a more personal understanding of what serving in Congress is like, including how members navigate the pushes and pulls of party, principle, and constituency.”