Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Of the People; By the People; For the People

DC is My Kind of Town

Wordful Wednesday is brought to you by Parenting for Dummies.

Virginia may be for lovers and I may have left my heart in San Francisco, but DC is my kind of town.

I've lived here for so many years that I do believe I could be called a genuine Washingtonian. Sure enough, I hail from Tejas and now live in the 'burbs, but DC ~ our Nation's Capital ~ is the Land of Lincoln that I love.

From summer concerts and fireworks on the West Lawn of the US Capitol to presidential motorcades that interrupt everyday downtown strolls; from Rolling Thunder roaring across the bridge from Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day to the nearly 4,000 Yoshino Cherry Trees that bloom, in unseasonal heat and sometimes in spring snowstorms, DC is a thrilling, enthralling iconoclast.

The Capital City, of course, is full of stuffed suits and egos off the charts. But it is also home to the funky rhythms of Capitol Hill's Eastern Market and the community of Miriam's Kitchen, which nurtured Yoshio and his friends of the street.

When folks "out there" criticize my city for its pomp and circumstance, for its politics and greed, a little piece of my heart cracks along the edges.

The truth is, where citizens beyond the Beltway see avarice, I see public servants who are trying to help.

I worked for a congressman ~ two, in fact ~ in the '80s. I can tell you most of them don't lead very lavish lives. Their staffs are crammed into rodent-infested quarters and work slavish hours for very little pay at the behest of the American people. I've helped coal miners in Southwest Virginia with their federal black lung benefits and I've listened patiently while an Oregon fisherman explained for what seemed like the eight-hundrenth time that fisheries management doesn't always sustain the little guy.

The victories for that little guy, though, are really what DC is all about.

Gabby Giffords, of Arizona's 8th District, and her Outreach Director, Gabe Zimmerman, were working for the people on Saturday when they were shot. Giffords, miraculously, survived. Zimmerman, who had set up the community gathering outside the Safeway in Tucson, did not.

The billboard above has been hanging over Highway 41 in Oshkosh, WI, for a number of years. Notice that it towers over the medium-security prison that serves the Fox River Valley. A bit of irony, that, no?

The cesspool isn't in Washington, DC, friends. The cesspool is in our hearts.

21 comments:

Vodka Logic said...

Interesting about the sign being over a prison..

Although I am sure they aren't all rich and lazy I still think a shake up of who's running things is a good idea, at least once in a while.

Amy said...

It's really weird to see how very differently people outside of the Beltway think about all the people inside it.

The big writing conference is in DC next month, and I'm SO excited to be back on home turf.

Tracy P. said...

Wow, Melissa, beautiful piece of writing here.

Jeanie said...

Your words are a wise island of calm in the midst of all that is being said right now.

blueviolet said...

Your last line sure encapsulated the truth!

Cheryl said...

Nice write, Melissa.

mama-face said...

Wow. What an excellent post. The grittiness of the photo is perfect. I'm finding myself not knowing what I could possibly add... so I won't.

Susie said...

That IS ironic!

Krystal said...

TOUCHE!

Au and Target said...

Interesting. I always think of DC as being Murder Capital of the World every now and again in competition with ??Detroit??

Sarah said...

I see they invited more career politicians into DC this time.

Snuggle Wasteland said...

This is a beautiful piece. I'm so sick of all the blathering from the media right now. I've been tuning it all out. Your last line speaks to the sad state of our nation right now.

I'll be tweeting and FB'ing this.

Carol said...

Great post, especially the last line!

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

So very true. Such a timely post.

Lucy said...

It is very sad here in Arizona and the young man who did the shooting was a very ill man. He had a very troubled past with parents who were doing their best to raise their child and yet parents and the village missed just how ill he was,we ignore the 'weirdos' and we name call the people who need our love and then we shake our heads when they go over the edge. If it takes a village then the village has to be more compassionate of those around them or we will begin to eat us alive.

My brother was a politician at the city level. They make no money and he worked hard for the city and he is one of the most honest man I know. He got out of politics because he felt Americans are jaded, not politicians. Americans are pushing out the good.
Sorry for the long comment.

Debbie said...

You nailed those last two sentences. Scary what people are capable of, isn't it?

Tara R. said...

The vitriol that is swirling around politics is really nothing new, but with the over abundance of media outlets just spreads it out faster and wider.

I want to read and hear more about legislators like Gabby Giffords. The ones who are out there doing the work, making a difference. I'm willing to bet there are more good ones than bad, but it doesn't bring in ratings.

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm really glad to hear they're working!

Serendipity said...

I'm amazed by that sign - I've never seen anything like it! I'm sure people feel similar about London too here in the UK...

tattytiara said...

I have always felt you can't truly know a place unless you've lived there, but the closest you can come otherwise is to listen to the voices of the people who do. You're never going to get the whole picture viewing it from afar!

StarTraci said...

Incredibly well put. My father was long-time friends with a man who became a U.S. representative. A very ethical, hard-working man who came from a very poor area of East Texas. He is no longer there but he is very "representative" (pun intended)of what is good about politicians.

But if we are a representative government and we are unhappy with our representatives than maybe we should look more at ourselves and how we choose to use our votes. I, for one, hope that we do use this horrible tragedy to look more kindly on our fellow citizens. At the end of the day, no matter what party affiliation we embrace (or reject), we are Americans.

Thank you for this post. You continue to inspire me.

Traci

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