DC is like “high school with twice the stress and all of the infighting”

“This place is a much more sophisticated junior high school,” 30-year-old Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said recently in an interview. “There are the nice guys that everybody likes, the jocks, the geeks, the bullies — they’re all here. It’s a representative democracy.”

Young Lawmaker Likens Congress to Jr. High,” by Elisabeth Goodridge, AP, October 22, 2005
Meg Greenfield “likens D.C. to high school with twice the stress and all of the infighting” in Washington (Cahners Press 2001).

She saw Washington as high school, complete with freshmen, terms, classes, summer vacations and ”put-downs by the big kids.” ”Political/governmental Washington,” she argued, ”is psychologically fenced off from the larger community within which it makes its home, free — like irresponsible youth — of all but the minimal obligations of citizenship to that community, and absorbed to the exclusion of all else in its own eccentric aims and competitions.”
Washingtonians were usually achievers in high school, she wrote, whether through grades, manners, looks or various accomplishments, and they bring those same skills to bear in the capital, while competing as they always have. Perhaps her most telling observation concerns the way Washingtonians talk of beyond-the-Beltway America as ”out there,” which she called ”the near equivalent of the schoolkid’s term ‘the real world.’ It means where everybody else is, where we have to go some day when this is over . . . becoming just like all the rest. Both terms connote a less rewarding and more onerous environment in which to live, even if you are feeling oppressed by your homework and your tests or by your political pressures or gargantuan departmental workload. Like ‘the real world,’ ‘out there’ seems less sympathetic and less exciting.”

Big Potomac High School: Posthumously, Meg Greenfield says what she thinks of Washington,” a review of Meg Greenfield’s “Washington,” by Adam Clymer, The New York Times, April 29, 2001

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  1. Hobnobblog says:

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