The seed of politics was planted in Chris Warren, 17, a junior at Caledonia High School, when he was 12 years old.
It was then he visited his great uncle George Overbey, an Arkansas State representative, in Little Rock and got the tour of the congressional chambers, the explanation of state politics, the works.
The soil for Warren was life in an Air Force family in which his parents, Joseph and Emilie Warren, stressed education while traveling the globe.
The water is the opportunity to serve in the congressional page program sponsored by Sen. Thad Cochran, where Warren will try to soak up some sunlight this summer in Washington D.C.
As a page, Warren will answer phones, run errands and prepare the Senate chamber for all senators, not just Cochran, while making a little money to put toward college.
It”s the logical next step in his growing interest in politics. Warren can”t get too involved during the school year as his cross-country and track and field obligations tie up much of his after-school time, but he”s an active member of the Teen Age Republicans, a Boy Scout and has campaigned for Greg Davis, the Republican nominee who ran against Travis Childers for the 1st District seat in 2008.
Warren considers himself a Republican, but he”s hardly a party line conservative. A student of history, Warren”s favorite president is Grover Cleveland, a Democrat who attacked frivolous spending and cronyism in government. His primary interest in politics is the art of compromise and bipartisan politics.
He”ll have his eyes and ears open in Washington from July 11 to Aug. 6 as he attempts to discern whether political compromise exists in reality or purely in theory.
Did your great uncle push you into politics?
The tour (of the Arkansas congressional chamber) really affected me, but we see things differently, his family and mine. He”s a very liberal Democrat. My parents have always stressed education. That”s what really got me into politics. When you”re a kid, it”s boring and you don”t understand it. I educated myself about my country and thought one day I”d like to serve as a senator.
When did you find out you had been accepted to the page program?
I sent my application in May of last year. In June my dad found out he had to go to Afghanistan (he returned Jan. 1). While we were saying goodbye to him for his tour, I got a call from Thad Cochran”s office saying I was accepted. It was a real morale booster.
What was included in the application?
I had to write an essay. Mine was about how interested I was in learning how people compromise on bills and how bills are passed. I want to know how people from different parties work together in a bipartisan way, because sometimes I have a hard time understanding. One of my family members might say something ridiculous, but I want to understand somebody with that point of view because I might have to work with them in Congress.
How did you arrive at your political ideology?
I love history. I feel that some principles of the past would benefit our country financially. For example, I don”t agree with giving out welfare to people who don”t really need it. There”s got to be reform. Having said that, I will say when my parents got out of college we had to live on WIC (Women, Infants and Children Program) for a little bit while my parents paid off debts. They had to at the time, but they didn”t enjoy it and wanted to get out of the program.
Do you see yourself being a lifelong Republican, or will you keep an open mind?
I consider myself a Republican because they”re more conservative. I lived in England (from the ages of 6 to 13) and kind of liked the atmosphere of being seen and not heard, being reserved.
That doesn”t mean I can”t have fun. I really danced at prom and it was a lot of fun, but I”m a very serious person.
A lot of solutions I think liberal politicians want to bring about, whether with good intentions or selfish reasons, I can”t agree with them. They would make us more like England.
They have free health care, but it was not the greatest health care system. In fact, I had to take a meningitis vaccine shot (in primary school) and they used the same needle on everybody. They just cleaned it. And some of the kids got my chicken pox. That”s just one incident.
And I didn”t agree with the heavy taxation of England. I don”t want that in my country. I don”t want class warfare in my country. There”s a lot of that in England with the progressive tax systems. I want people to be free to choose their pursuit of happiness.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.