New book reveals how to survive and thrive as a congressional staffer

The research-heavy book — which draws heavily from Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince and The Book of the Courtier by Baldassare Castiglione — is chock full of sometimes tough-love tips and historical and philosophical references.

“The most important thing you can do as an intern, more important than learning process of writing a memo for a member, is to make friends,” Balthazar declares to ITK. “You can make friends among your fellow interns and you try to make friends outside that circle. It’s the most important thing about being in politics because friendships drive politics.”

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Balthazar advises the best bet for young staffers is to balance being selfish and selfless. But with all the Machiavellian ways of thinking, is politics really this dark?

The author says yes. While discussing the book with a female staffer, Balthazar said she revealed something key: “The help she has gotten in her career has always been from people who don’t know her. Her friends aren’t the ones who help her. It’s the people who don’t know her who put their necks on the line for her.”

He continues, “That’s the kind of place we’re in. It’s one of the reasons it’s so difficult to make real friendships here … It’s really easy to make enemies in politics. You have to always try to put your best foot forward.”

Balthazar, who says he wrote much of the book in his car at four in the morning before heading into work, says there is some hope for Hill novices: “I try to impress upon the reader in the very last chapter how you can be noble, and be selfless, and still excel. ... The necessary skills to be a staffer are the same as they were 500 years ago.”

Photo: Skyhorse Publishing

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