The Joy of Living in “The Swamp”

By Graham Glover

Worthless.

Broken.

Corrupt.

These are just a few of the words I’ve heard over the last few days to describe the city where I live. Not that it’s entirely different at other times, but people don’t feel too great about the recent shenanigans going on in Washington, D.C.

When the clock hit midnight on Friday, January 19th, the Federal Government effectively shut down. Our government closed its doors because the 535 elected officials who make up the United States Congress were unable to pass a budget or even a short-term continuing resolution. Three days later, they managed to reopen the doors, but only for three weeks. That’s right, three whole weeks. The lone superpower left in the free world—the beacon of democracy—is now open for business until February 8th.

Welcome to “The Swamp,” my new town.

Although my fellow citizens may not be too keen on this place, I really like living in “The Swamp.” In fact, I find a lot of joy living in our nation’s capital.

Is it filled with worthless people? Not at all. It’s filled with some of the smartest and hardest working people I’ve ever known (and that includes those 535 elected officials, as well as those that serve and inform them, that failed so epically in doing their job this week).

Are its institutions broken? Hardly. While they may not be perfect (closing when they shouldn’t…), they somehow keep churning out the strongest economy, the most lethal military, and the brightest minds in the world (and yes, I’m talking about the role of the United States Congress in doing these things).

Is it a corrupt place? I suppose. But no more than the place you live (well, that might be a stretch, but you get my point).

Even more than these, I find joy living in Washington, D.C. because everything about this place is emblematic of who we are as Americans. All of the greatness that is this place is only possible because of the greatness of Americans—the same Americans who live and work here. All of its failures are due entirely to the worthless, broken, and corrupt citizens that make up this great land—the same Americans that live and work here. Like you, I love my country, no matter how great it is or how often it fails. And we are a nation that does both on a regular basis. The joy for me is that I get to see this “Swamp” in action, up close and personal, every single day.

I often hear people talk about how they could do it better, how we need to radically reform the way our government does business. Remember the pledge to “Drain the Swamp”? Grand visions of a more pristine model are regularly thrown around by politicians, pundits and citizens alike. There’s goodness is some of these ideas. I support some of these proposals. But regardless of whether they are ever implemented, I still think this is and will remain a remarkable place—this “Swamp” known as Washington, D.C.

Seriously, tell me what’s so rotten about this place. And as you do so, tell me how the city where you live, the people who live there, and the institutions that run it are any different that D.C. I’m not suggesting this place is great simply because it’s like every other place. I’m suggesting that it’s great and that I find joy in living here because this city is at the epicenter of all that is America. Are there problems? Of course. Can things be fixed? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t trade the opportunity of watching the machine that is the grand American experiment operate for anything. Like most others, I’ll likely get my fill one day. The magnitude of everything that goes on here I’m sure will wear on me one day. But for now, I love it. I relish in it. I find joy in it.

Don’t drain “The Swamp,” because if you do, you’ll be draining America. Rather, look to this worthless, broken, and corrupt place and know that it is but a beautiful picture of you, a picture of me, a picture of America. And that my friends is joyful. For that is America.