Elle Woods is one of my personal heroes. Whenever I’m having an off day, I can watch Legally Blonde and be reminded that with hard work, perseverance, and a really great outfit, I can accomplish my goals.
It is, for once, pure coincidence that my list of cities lived in now includes everywhere Elle has lived – Boston, LA, and now, DC. I certainly didn’t set out for our nation’s capital because it was Elle’s destination in Legally Blonde 2, but I’m starting to understand how out of place she felt when she got there.
While I don’t work in politics or anywhere close to it, I feel that living in a city centered around a topic requires its residents to be at least mildly informed about the subject. (That said, I managed four years in LA while barely knowing anything about the entertainment industry, so maybe not.) Unfortunately, my political knowledge is limited to whatever Tina Fey covered in SNL skits during the last presidential election. I recently went to compliment someone on their Dwight Schrute bobblehead when I realized that said bobblehead was, in fact, Ronald Reagan. To say that I am politically illiterate would be an understatement.
I went to school in Boston, where you didn’t have to know anything about politics as long as you professed to vote Democrat. In DC, however, when someone asks you about politics, the answer “I support any party Sarah Palin doesn’t belong to!” and a giggle no longer seems to suffice. People here understand the issues and they care about them, so a cute outfit, perky attitude, and a touch of idealism aren’t going to cut it for me anymore. I feel as out of place as Elle did with her Snap Cup. (Incidentally, my friend S and I tried to do a round of Snap Cup in college once; it went over about as well with our classmates as it did with Elle’s Congressional colleagues.)
Unlike Elle, I can’t rely on my dog’s friends or my sorority connections to get me a leg up in understanding the political process (as I don’t have a dog and wasn’t in a sorority). If I want to sound less like an idiot when I inadvertently find myself at a party full of people who work in politics and have opinions very different than my own, I’m going to need to educate myself. There’s really no time like the present, it being a presidential election year and all. There’s just one problem – I really don’t want to.
Any time I start reading about politics, I feel like there’s nothing to do but come to the conclusion that the entire system is corrupt, the recession is never going to end and that the country is generally spiraling downward. So I just ignore politics and go back to reading the latest gossip about Tom and Katie’s divorce. The thing about that is, that if everyone adopted my attitude toward politics, the country really would be in a downward spiral. If, on the other hand, we all decided to start caring, well, maybe that’s when things would change.
For now, I’m going to take baby steps, and do things like start watching The Daily Show again, or actually listening to the random bits of governmental trivia I hear on the street (did you know the Senate used to have Seersucker Thursday?). From there, who knows? While Legally Blonde 2 makes getting involved in politics look a little too easy (if one person just cares enough, she can come to Washington and get a bill passed!), the movie has its heart in the right place. The point of having a democracy is that we can all participate in our government, so it’s high time we all start.
Image via All The Tests