It’s Washington, D.C.: What did you expect?

In The Art of Travel Spring 2017, 5. Politics, Washington DC by Daniela1 Comment

When I chose D.C. as my next adventure, I did so with the intention to immerse myself in the political realm of my country in order to compliment my political science studies. The actuality of being in the capital during the beginning of a new presidential administration has been and continues to be a new thrill every day. Working as an intern on Capitol Hill also gives me insight into the current political climate, important and controversial policy decisions, and a saturation instead of a daily dose of politics. But then again, it’s Washington, D.C.: what did I expect?

Talking politics around the U.S. is easy as everyone thinks themselves politically savvy, especially in New York and on college campuses; students are one of the most politically active groups around the world and across history. It may seem simple and relevant to rant about single payer healthcare and campaign politics when all your friends seem to know what’s up. Talking politics in Washington, D.C., however, is hard because you have to really know your stuff or risk making a fool of yourself around those who really do know what they’re talking about. Each of my classes begins with the lowdown on what President Trump and his administration has passed through their office that week and luckily or unluckily, there is always something new to discuss. Since our classes began shortly after the inauguration, we have had a steady flow of conversation material. This week we will parse through the new directive following an executive order from earlier in the year strictly enforcing immigration laws and the resulting measures to be taken by immigration and border control agencies in the U.S. that was published not seven days ago. Not surprisingly, I have already written a paper on this topic. Things move quickly here and at this global location, everyone, whether a politics major or not, is involved in politics and is expected to keep up. Oftentimes, my peers astonish me with their wealth of political knowledge and ability to foresee political action following the “game.” This seems to be the only thing worth talking about when decisions and real political actors are living and working a short walk away from where you spend all of your time, whether that is the NYUDC campus or on Capitol Hill as most of the Hill’s interns tend to do.

Some people call the America that excludes Washington, D.C. the “real America” as a jab to politicians that seem out of touch with their constituency and a government that as a whole does not function under the needs of the majority of the country. “Real America” is where people are struggling to find jobs and afford healthcare, where some do not have potable water and others have no water at all. I can understand the frustrations that overcome the American people when they feel as though their representatives are so far from home that they forget the every day perils they promised to alleviate. But here’s the thing: our government is traditionally slow moving, catching friction and taking long water breaks in order to make real decisions that have been thoroughly considered and well thought out. There is merit in saying that Washington may be slightly disconnected with the people around the country if geography puts distance between them and the important issues of their district’s voters. However, the design of the government was meant to work slowly to prevent too much power from accumulating in any one branch or with any one person. Bureaucracy protects us, in a way, from too much hasty action, even though it mostly works to frustrate any person trying to resolve an issue through government channels.

 

Comments

  1. Daniela! It looks like you’re really getting the a timely, political experience there in DC. When you refer to your political experience as a saturation in DC, it feels like you are getting a wonderful exposure to each and every aspect of the political climate. On the other hand, the pace of such exposure is very fast – do you feel you get the time to reflect deeply and process all the changes, especially with a new administration, one that is arguably less predictive in nature? Do you also feel that you are more comfortable in DC to express your political opinion, or do you focus on objectively analyzing political changes, as opposed to adding your own perspective? Would love to hear your thoughts on the experience!

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