How to succeed* in DC

[ 7 ] May 7, AD 2012 |

This month, hundreds of college students and recent grads — many of them aspiring politicians — will flock to the nation’s capital for coveted government-related internships. To welcome them to town and prepare them for political careers, I’ve written a brief guide: How to succeed* in DC.

The cardinal rule of political success is believing (and saying at every opportunity) that your opponents are motivated by two things: hatred and stupidity.

First, hatred. Your opponents cannot possibly be good people and still disagree with you; it is HATE that lies behind their every conviction.  In fact, your opponent probably hates one of these two groups: 1) poor people, minorities, gays, atheists, kids, Muslims, pacifists, non-Americans, scientists, public school teachers, working moms, and union members OR 2) rich people, whites, straight people, Christians, babies, soldiers, businessmen, clergy, and stay-at-home moms. So go ahead and demonize your opponents at every turn, because they’re clearly a bunch of hate-filled monsters.

The only other explanation of your political opponents’ views is stupidity. Any intelligent person would see the world exactly the way you do and seek your goals with the exact methods that you propose.

Of course, to believe that all your opponents are stupid necessitates the second major rule of succeeding in DC: Stay in your bubble. You cannot befriend your political opponents (or any of their sympathizers), nor can you read any of their literature. Thus you may only visit one set of the following websites: 1) National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and The American Conservative OR 2) Huffington Post, The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Nation, and Slate. These lists are not exhaustive, however, so be careful where you websurf, or else your political views might become muddied by the suspicion that your opponents are not always idiotic and wrong.

Speaking of websurfing and political literature, don’t forget why your opponents still have supporters: media bias. Nothing else could explain it. If the media were only even-handed, everyone would be on your side, no matter what side you’re on.

Media bias and your opponents’ hatred come together in DC’s most useful political strategy: playing the victim card. You (or your supporters) are the victim(s) of your opponents’ hateful policy ideas, whether your suffering comes through paying taxes and fighting wars or attending bad schools and having to pay for your own birth control. Your opponents have set out to hurt you, but if you can highlight your undeserved pain, then you turn their tactics against them by guilt-tripping the public into supporting you.

A selective memory is also vital to success inside the Beltway. Remember and cite the economic studies and opinion polls that support your views; debunk and forget the ones that don’t. You couldn’t possibly be wrong about anything — that would mean that your opponents are sometimes right (perish the thought!) — thus any study that refutes your beliefs must be flawed. Selectivity is also useful when it comes to religion: Only dwell on those religious teachings and Bible verses that support your existing political views. Never, ever consider the possibility that a good Christian could support different policies than you do — or the even worse possibility that God would not support your party’s whole platform.

Closely related to a selective memory is the double standard. When a leader in your party commits adultery, it is a regrettable but pardonable shortcoming for which he has sincerely repented. When your political opponent commits adultery, however, it is nothing less than a betrayal of America’s highest ideals and irrefutable proof of his unworthiness for elected office. When a leader of your party holds high office, dissent is just one short step away from treason; it must be silenced, and preferably punished (because, as we know, disagreement with your party can only be explained by hatred). When an opponent is in office, however, dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

But the very best way to utilize the double standard is on the economy (job creation, gas prices, the cost of living, etc). When your party is in power and the economy is weak, it is a creation of the impersonal forces of supply and demand, or the sum of millions of people making billions of unpredictable decisions on a daily basis; you have no control over it. When your party is in power and the economy is strong, its strength is solely attributable to your policies and the nation’s confidence in your leaders. If the economy is strong when your opponents are in power, however, it’s strong in spite of their policies; whereas if it’s weak while they’re in power, it’s because of said policies.

Please do share this list with any wannabe politicians you may know. Otherwise we’ll end up with a bunch of mature, intelligent, forgiving, honest, open-minded, compassionate people in office — and who’d want that?!

*By “succeed,” I mean “lose your soul”.

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Category: Career

About the Author ()

Anna Williams is a junior fellow at First Things magazine, a former Collegiate Network fellow at USA TODAY, and a recent graduate of Hillsdale College.
  • Richard

    Anna: if you had not put ‘college seniors and recent grads’ in the very firs part of this I would of thought it was intended, it still can be, for those politicians who will find themselves as ‘freshmen’ in Congress after the eletions in November. Many of these ‘freshmen’ have good intentions but many will eventually ‘lose their soul’ along the way.
    Richard

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  • http://hereisthechurch.wordpress.com Allie

    Is it sad that now part of me is just all nostalgic for visiting DC this summer?

    But this is a good list. And not even just for its political bent. I never realized how desensitized I was to certain types of events due to my upbringing in the DC metro area until I moved to the Midwest, where people are shocked by things I just assumed were part of life.

  • http://virtuouspla.net/ Anna Williams

    Richard- Good point! Yeah I think most politicians start out with good intentions (about reforming politics, working for their constituents not their donors, departing from the party line when appropriate, etc.) but it’s so, so rare for their good intentions to turn into good actions.

    Allie- Haha! I wouldn’t have guessed that this would make anyone nostalgic for DC… but yes, living in DC (technically outside DC but very much in the political bubble) has desensitized me as well. And made me very cynical. As the post probably shows. I’m from Michigan, so this all surprised me at first, but it doesn’t anymore!

  • http://beatencopperlamp.blogspot.com Sarah @ Beaten Copper Lamp

    Hahaha I grew up in the DC area too and this all sounds very familiar. I was probably guilty of several of these in high school. Very astute observations. I think it’s important to remember that God is neither Democrat nor Republican.

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