5 common Washington myths

1. People in Washington don’t understand “Real America.” In reality, this is an area of people who used to live somewhere else, often in those places that love to refer to themselves “flyover county” because they think we do (I don’t think I’ve ever heard this phrase from a Washingtonian). People move here because this is where the work is — in tech, in journalism, in law, and yes, in politics. But if you live elsewhere and buy the whole “clueless Washington people” myth, ask yourself: Do you know anyone who lives here? I bet you do. In fact, I bet you know several folks who live here and moved here to pursue a career. I bet they’re doing pretty well.

2. People in Washington are lazy and privileged. In reality, people here work incredibly hard. This is an area overstuffed with Type A personalities — so much that I think it actually hurts the quality of life. Example: If you run into some minor issue at a grocery store here, probably 18 customers or so will try to take charge of the situation — and they often eventually turn on each other. And as far as privilege: Yes, this is one of best-paying places in the country. It’s also one of the most expensive. Those salaries don’t get you that far ahead when the median cost of a home here is over half a million bucks (and that is just the beginning). And jobs here are competitive — if you want to be lazy, someone is going to take your job.

3. People in Washington are all a bunch of liberals. Well, OK, most of ’em are Democrats, but people who spout this don’t make the distinction any more between “Democrats” and “liberals.” However, on this front, we’re not different than people in most of the largest metro areas of this country, including large metro areas in solidly red states. A lot of these metros feature high salaries, growing economies, diverse cultures, low crime (my home town of Jefferson City, Mo. has a crime rate 25% higher than the national average; my current home of Alexandria, Va. has a rate 28% lower than the national average, according to areavibes.com) and on and on and on. There’s probably not all that much that’s different about living here when compared to many successful big cities.

4. People in Washington don’t think about other people. Oh, yes, we do. We think about you all of the time. We wonder, for example, why so many of you reject demonstrable facts so readily these days. We wonder why you are paying so little attention to how your government actually functions. We also wonder why we continue to subsidize and support the people who insult and berate us the loudest, because they often are from areas that benefit the most from the money we pay.

5. “We need to drain the swamp.” Washington isn’t built on a swamp. Why would someone tell you this falsehood? Anyway, swamps are beautiful and help protect against flooding. Here’s a little reality check on this front, and how it relates to most people who work here.


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