Scandals, special interests, George Santos: Washington, D.C. is the ‘swamp’ of American politics. National media outlets clamor to cover the next big political controversies from supposed adults. However, the perspectives and experiences of undergraduates living and working in D.C. are often left out of meaningful conversations on what the demands of political life mean for a future generation of leaders already confronting the effects of political decisions.
This column intends to fill about maybe 2% of this gap and leave 98% up for your interpretation.
As a student in the Tufts in Washington Semester Program at American University this spring semester, I’m getting thrown into what many people see as the political equivalent of the Hunger Games: an unforgiving arena with no end in sight.
Political commentators, often egotistically, frame D.C. as a playing field with defined winners and losers, with winners (like them) obtaining the accolades and connections and the losers relegating themselves to the sidelines. In an environment where people of all political persuasions and backgrounds hustle to be their best selves, I don’t want myself, nor any of you, to think of D.C. and politics as a zero-sum game.
Throughout this semester, I plan on endlessly ranting and hopefully delivering some decent commentary on what it is like living, studying and working in D.C. from the viewpoint of a political junkie, who is a little too obsessed with writing about stuff like this. Working an internship at a think tank, networking and making new friends, eavesdropping on lobbyists’ venting sessions at coffee shops, observing petty D.C. college rivalries, attending the Italian Embassy’s Valentine’s Ball, experiencing Wawa, commenting on George Santos (again because I may or may not get desperate if there isn’t much tea to spill), you name it: I’ll hand out topics on a biweekly basis like I’m Oprah Winfrey.
There may be times when I quickly move on from one subject to the next, or where I bounce around in a somewhat disorganized and erratic manner with no linear progression. And when I mean “times,” I mean every single column I put out from now on.
If D.C. has taught me anything in the two weeks I’ve resided here, it’s that life in D.C. is like an endless 100-meter sprint. Anywhere else, it’s a marathon.
I hope that you find this column enjoyable as much as I find writing it. It’s not a guarantee that I don’t randomly inject a nerdy political reference, dish out swipes to the political villain of the week or play down to Tufts’ collegiate competition here (I’ll name names when I get there!). Despite a bleak national political environment where cynicism abounds, and people are fundamentally doubting our system’s ability to function, I want to set the record straight. D.C. is full of talented, compassionate and invested people who work together to make our system a little bit less distressing than it is.
D.C. shouldn’t be a zero-sum game, and I hope that this column sheds light on the current good and the even better possibilities ahead.