Even at the RNC, Eric Franzen felt like he was in the minority. He was certain that he and another intern from St. Louis, Mo. were the only Republicans placed with Talk Radio News Service.
As a student in Augsburg’s Master of Arts in Education program, Franzen is not required to complete an internship. He applied to the Washington Center program because he said he recently became intrigued by the “reality” of politics. “Politics is real people doing real things with real consequences,” he said. “It’s democracy in action.” He felt the convention would provide an opportunity to become part of the political reality.
For his internship, Franzen covered convention events with a video camera and then posted interviews and stories on the Talk Radio News website. His most rewarding experience, however, happened after the convention because he said he finally felt free to have open conversations about politics with other students at Augsburg. “This campus is very politically liberal,” Franzen said. “Some of us get a little nervous.”
Franzen is grateful to Augsburg for hosting the Washington Center program because he said it created opportunities for dialogue and has allowed him to engage with others, including his politically liberal friend and fellow intern, Ben Krouse-Gagne. “I want to push for political diversity and inclusivity at Augsburg,” he said, “but certain opinions aren’t always included in the discussion.”
In the future, Franzen aspires to hold a public office. He even added his name to the ballot in the Republican slot for the District 60A state representative seat. His opponent? Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the 10-year incumbent and current speaker of the House.
Why would a young graduate student put his name on the ballot against an incumbent in an overwhelmingly liberal district? Franzen asked. “Because I can,” Franzen said.
“No one was running, and I didn’t want to see the office go unopposed,” he said. “My goal was for voters to have a choice, so I’m doing what I can to give them that choice.” Though he not likely to unseat Kelliher, he has been campaigning, calling voters, and attending events to promote his candidacy. “It’s a lot of work.”
Getting Active in Politics (Ben Krouse-Gagne ’11)
Changing Courses (Mai Lee ’11)
Because I Can (Eric Franzen MAE ’10)