Elise LaFleur looks the part. Neat and professional, with straight, combed hair, pearl studs in her ears, and a simple neutral cardigan covering a red shift dress, LaFleur sits with her shoulders back and hands folded in front of a cup of green tea. Despite a long day on Capitol Hill, she’s poised, polished, and ready to talk politics.
“I specifically came to Catholic for the Politics Department, especially for their study abroad programs and access to internships,” she said. LaFleur interns for Majority Whip Steve Scalise. It's her second semester in the position. She was asked to return after proving her worth last year.
In the congressman’s office, LaFleur talks with constituents via phone or email and passes on their concerns to Scalise. She writes them letters letting them know what Scalise is doing to protect the Louisiana coastline, serve the public education system, or to address whatever other concerns they might have. LaFleur likes this part of the job. It keeps her connected to the people back home.
“I really want to be a voice for those who see D.C. as so far away, as almost untouchable. I want to advocate for them, make their voices heard. Sometimes people feel like D.C. forgets about them. It’s important to remember the humanity behind people and the real issues they’re facing,” said LaFleur.
LaFleur caught the politics bug back in high school. She served as a page in the Louisiana state legislature and competed on her school’s speech and debate team. When speech and debate tournaments took her all over the country from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale, she began to envision herself settling down in a city for college.
What better place for someone interested in politics than Washington, D.C.?
Come November, the interns in Rep. Scalice’s office might be out of a job.
“It’s crazy on the Hill right now,” says LaFleur, grinning. “It’s not just about what’s going on, pieces of legislation, what’s happening in the Supreme Court hearings, but also who is going to get re-elected, who's going to lose their job? Move around to different offices? It’s a lot of pressure. We’re all just hoping things turn out well.”
LaFleur says that political casualties, even one’s own, are a risk politicians take when fighting for causes they believe in.
“Not everything should be a game in politics. Not every move should be a ploy for some other goal or your own personal gain. Some things are worth fighting for that aren’t in the popular opinion, but if [you’re fighting] for the right reasons, for the right things, at the end of the day, it’s worth it.”