By Laura Lington
When I was a college freshman, the opinion editor at my university’s newspaper introduced me to Austin Petersen and his online publication, The Libertarian Republic. Soon after, I packed two suitcases and left my childhood home in Kansas for a summer internship with Austin in Washington, D.C. Austin was a patient mentor—teaching me invaluable lessons in entrepreneurship and challenging my evolving political ideas. He encouraged me to start my own Facebook page, Liberty Laura. Within 3 years, that page grew into a community of 32,000 flame-throwing, meme-loving strangers who also taught me a lot.
I unpublished my Liberty Laura Facebook page in 2018 because I committed to communications work in an official capacity. I spent the next two years as a working professional on my own in the nation’s Capitol. It was rigorous. I quickly learned that politics is a fast, loose, never-ending happy hour, with everyone making it up as they go. (You can say it: I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.)
My first job out of college was an internship with Hillsdale College’s Washington, D.C. campus. Next, I wrote digital copy for various nonprofits inside the Koch network. Shortly after, I accepted a position as press secretary for the Nick Freitas U.S. Senate campaign in Virginia. Most recently, I had the privilege of serving nearly 2 years in the U.S. House of Representatives as communications director for Congressman Thomas Massie. During the rare moments I wasn’t working, I got married to the best man I’ve ever met and gave birth to our baby boy, Dawson—the best thing I’ve ever done.
A month before the COVID-19 pandemic, my mom suffered a severe medical event that brought my little family and me back to Kansas, permanently. During quarantine, I took the time to enjoy the people around me and pray about my next professional step.
I admitted to myself that I’m a lot like my dad—driven and stubborn. I don’t like working for anyone except myself (the worst and best boss ever). I learned so much in the past few years and gained truly invaluable experience from powerful people, but being unable to express myself freely was wearing on me. Therefore, I recently made the easy decision to start my own business, Essentially.
Essentially is an easy-to-read email newsletter that explains what Congress is doing with your money without insider lingo or faux outrage. While working in Congress, I realized my friends and family were following a completely different news cycle than I was. During phone calls and visits home, I would mention, “Hey did you know that House leadership passed a trillion-dollar spending bill by unanimous consent while every other lawmaker was out of town?” They had no idea. Understandably, they were outraged. Amidst the blur of legacy media—CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, angry Facebook posts, and, convenient but unfortunately left-leaning, online media—I saw a gap in the marketplace for a media curator to deliver congressional updates to regular people, specifically millennials. Essentially is my attempt to bridge this gap.
I’d be honored if you joined me: https://essentially.news