President Andrew Johnson once said, “Washington, D.C., is 12 square miles bordered by reality.” This quote, which my roommate showed to me the other weekend, could not be truer. Anyone who lives inside of this bubble will attest that D.C. is a political institution, not a city.
Topics during happy hour usually range from whether the government shutdown is going to happen to the list of 2012 Republican presidential nominees. Celebrity sightings in the city mean running into a political figure.
The other week in the elevator of Cannon, one of the House of Representatives buildings, I ran into Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina’s 5th district. I had just written a profile on her for my internship and immediately recognized her. Smiling nervously, I darted into the first open elevator – going in the wrong direction, of course.
As I was sitting with my friend last night comparing these celebrity sightings at our local hangout, Hawk and Dove, I realized something. Maybe I’m not in the real world here, but I’m not in the real world at UNC either. Substitute the word “congressman” and “senator” for “fraternity” and “sorority,” and the cultures are very similar. They are both integrated groups with their own lingo and culture.
The first time a Chapel Hill student focused on anything government–related outside of the classroom was probably during the elections for Student Body President. And even that focuses solely on the university.
I think both bubbles could handle a bit of reality – I can only hope that Chapel Hill students become more politically aware, and that people in D.C. become less so. A little balance would be good.
Maybe someday I’ll choose to live somewhere that more accurately represents the “real” world, but for now, I’ll just enjoy living at both ends of the spectrum.