It’s been about a year since I left the Washington, DC area. On a night like tonight — when the President gives his State of the Union address — I miss DC’s intoxicating energy. There’s no other place on earth where bars willingly air the SOTU (and presidential debates, among other political fare), and where drunken patrons actually engage.
I don’t consider myself a political person. After all, I’m just a lowly educator trying to get students to and through college so they can fulfill their own brand of the American Dream. (Confessions: I scored a 3 on my AP U.S. History exam. I’ve never seen an episode of The West Wing. The last “political” movie I saw was Air Force One.)
But after moving into the Beltway in 2005 and spending nearly a decade as a public servant working closely with senior officials in both parties, I developed a healthier appreciation for both the infrastructure and the process of the federal government. No matter who’s in power and whether we agree with his/her policies, there’s a reason we’re the nation we are 230+ years later.
Which is why it bothers the crap out of me that there are people who want to wholesale destroy the federal government. They may wrap themselves in the American flag, brandishing words like “patriotism” about. But their anarchic views only overshadow the truth that the federal government is us. We — i.e., you and I — are the federal government.
Sure, we’re messy. And sure, we’re a gajillion light years from perfect. (You can read my musings from when the federal government shut down in 2013 and I grew a beard* here: https://coobs.wordpress.com/tag/shutdown.)
*not really a beard
We somehow keep electing megalomaniacs who don’t seem to have a basic understanding of generally accepted scientific concepts. We’re easily distracted by stupid crises manufactured for profit. And I’m not too naive to understand that there’s too much influence on policy decisions from many dark corners of the woodwork. The extent to which our representatives actually represent us is questionable.
But I’ve got to believe that this great experiment works because we — i.e., you and I — participate in the process. Because we are our government. Despite many serious bumps in the road, we’ve somehow survived as a nation. And that, to me, is worth raising a glass to.