GovSight is a non-profit technology and news company which was formed in 2019. In our weekly GovSight Diaries series, we share the stories of our challenges and successes in hopes that others can learn from our accomplishments and struggles.

“How did you first get interested in politics and government?”

It’s a question I have asked others at least once a week since founding GovSight with Andrew just over a year ago. Whether it’s a highly anticipated guest or a new member of the team, that query embodies much about who we are and what we believe in.

But in terms of my own interests, it’s not like I had much of a choice. Unlike a lot of people, I grew up with politics and government embedded in my everyday life.

My parents ignited my passion for politics

Both my parents had extensive experience in government. With freshly minted law degrees, both of them moved to Washington in the 1990s to pursue careers in government. My father worked for Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Election Commission; he spent a considerable amount of time with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. My mother, after working as a legal intern for the Environmental Protection Agency in Boston, spent a short time helping out the House Energy and Commerce Committee and then worked at the Federal Trade Commission for more than 25 years.

It wasn’t unusual for various members of political agencies to come over to our home for dinner — and for a massive policy discussion to break out. Instead of the usual juvenile placations about what my favorite class was in school, they would ask me what I thought of President Bush’s immigration policy: “Should we be in Afghanistan right now? Should we bail out big banks to keep our economy from going under?”

And it was more than that really. My father had a deep passion for politics — more of an obsession, honestly. Parts of my childhood were spent listening to old 20th century campaign stories and learning how the electoral college worked. Watching the evening news was mandatory — CBS, NBC, ABC; sometimes FOX or CNN so that we “understood all perspectives” — so we would “know what’s going on in the world.”

When my friends came over, my dad quizzed them on breaking news. Needless to say, “I don’t watch the news,” was not an acceptable answer. Not to mention watching the 1960 election results between Kennedy and Nixon over and over and over again.

Election Day was like a mini celebration in my household. My younger sister and I would work the polls with my father for a few hours, then “help” my dad submit his vote. We then spent the rest of the day driving around town picking up old campaign stickers, signs, posters — you name it. My dad collected everything.

So no matter the issue, I was required to at least have an informed opinion. I didn’t have to know or understand everything, but I had to be able to say I believe in this and here is why.

When I left for college, my family only had one rule: Vote in every election possible, otherwise they wouldn’t pay my tuition for the semester. Since I was 18, I have voted in every single local, state, and federal election (except for one, sorry). There were a few times my dad went searching through the public registry to make sure my ballot had been submitted before sending the tuition check.

After college, I began working at CNBC where I gathered plenty of newsroom experience and refined my reporting skills to that of a national broadcaster, still prescribing to the passion for politics I’d cultivated growing up.

Igniting others through GovSight

When Andrew came to me with the idea for GovSight, I never looked back. I believed then, as I do now, that we can change how politics and government are done in this country. As we brought on more people, I have started thinking that reading about the 1972 Iowa caucuses when I was 14 wasn’t a big waste of time!

And I realized that maybe not everyone was as interested in politics and government like Andrew and I were; maybe they never had the opportunity to participate in local government or watch a federal response unfold.

In reality, everyone is politics and government, even if people don’t recognize it. Voting is a crucial factor of supporting our democracy, and increasing access to information about elections truly bolsters our representation.

Everyone’s voice matters.

We needed to make it real for people, to ensure everyone knows that the power of our government derives from them — that they do have a say. Ultimately, to bridge the gap that we put between ourselves and governmental bodies. And that’s how we build a better world.

I see it within our own team: Different people with different stories, some with political science backgrounds and some who’ve only been able to vote in one election. Already, we work better together, are stronger, and driven behind this passion. Our goal is to fuel it beyond our team — to make citizenship simplified for everyone.

How you can fuel your own fire

The passion that I was born into is a gift we aim to share with everyone, and by surrounding yourself with people who want to do the same thing — who recognize this passion can make a difference — we will get there.

I encourage anyone looking to start a nonprofit or similar venture to look at your passions, realize where you can fill a need, and surround yourself with people who want to fuel it. And from there, you can funnel your fire into something that can really shape our world for the better.

Now, reader, I have a question for you:

“How did you first get interested in politics and government?”

Contact the author at miguelpineda@govsight.com.