They are “elite DC internships” BECAUSE THEY ARE UNPAID. Studio apartment $1600 a month utilities $120 a month, car or transit pass, phone, internet, food, HEALTH INSURANCE... you -have- to sponge off your family. It’s a more than full time job (especially if you’re trying to start your political career there is a lot of outside extra time). You’ve already got to be rich, or prepare to seriously hurt financially to go do it. That’s what makes it elite. Not because getting accepted is particularly hard, but because it takes being able to support someone making no income living in DC. If the interns got paid then more people would apply. Then maybe are halls of government wouldn’t be so overwhelmingly privileged. I know exactly one person that did it and it was costing his family upwards of $3500 a month to support him while he was in DC and this was in 1998. Can you shell out that money for your kids without a wince? How many of you would tell your kids that you couldn’t afford to send them to do that? Most of us. Reality check, most of us can’t do that. And my family was not poor. We were solid middle class. What do you think the effect is when an entire subset of citizens is functionally denied this “special training ground“ for political careers? What effect do you think that has on the diversity? And I’m not just talking about racial diversity but purely economic diversity. This elite class isn’t one made up of special skills. The elite class is made purely on monetary background. And one big reason for that is because we don’t pay interns. You cannot call yourself egalitarian, you cannot call yourself fair-minded, and know that you have excluded 90% of the possible candidates purely on their ability to put up the money just to live there. PAY THE INTERNS!