3 Ways Westeros Is Just Like Washington Today
It's a complex system with nefarious players, battling factions, back-room dealings, plenty of betrayal, hidden problems and a fair share of bloodshed.
So is this Game of Thrones or Washington, D.C., we're talking about? You decide (Warning! Spoilers ahead!):
The warring factions: To say the houses of Westeros have their quarrels would be putting it lightly. The Lannisters and the Baratheons, the Boltons and the Martells, the Starks and the Targaryens — they're all vying for power, making deals to get what they want, often at the expense of their people and sometimes even their lives. Sometimes they'll band together to get something done, but usually they'll just bicker and try to kill each other.
That sure does sound a lot like the clashes between the Democrats and Republicans. Though the two parties — and their various offshoots and caucuses — may say they're trying to work together, there's very little that gets done and what does happen leads to fairly minimal change. Congress has been historically unproductive and both sides are trending towards being around the most extremely polarized in history. On top of that, while Congress supposedly represents the country's various interests, large groups have gone almost totally ignored while the wealthy and their special interests enjoy seemingly full control of the government. Instead of working together to maintain a well run government for the people, Congress and Washington in general, politicians remain embroiled in a game of power and control, more concerned about their own interests than anyone else's.
The unjust justice system: A major storyline in the most recent season of Game of Thrones has followed the death of King Joffrey Baratheon, the investigation into his murder and the subsequent trial. As viewers watched and learned that Petyr Baelish was actually behind Joffrey's death, those in the capitol King's Landing were left utterly convinced that Tyrion Lannister was actually behind the death. A trial proceeded and then things got ... bloody.
Watching this backwards, messed up, baseless system of "justice" unfold, it was hard to believe something so insane would ever happen in the real world. But think about it: The justice system in America continues to favor certain groups (Tyrion feels your pain) and can often leads to serious problems of disenfranchisement and very non-democratic principles. A number of states have enacted voter ID laws, making it increasingly difficult for certain groups (poor, black people) to vote. And since cases like McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, there are record amounts of money flowing into and out of Washington, effectively negating the possibility of fair laws that cover all of America rather than the 1% or elections that do anything but prove who has the most money.
Maybe trial by combat really is a fairer option?
Ignoring the elephant in the room: Or, in the case of Westeros, the dragon ... or more accurately dragons. While Daenerys Targaryen bides her time across the Narrow Sea, raising her dragons and building an army, the powers of Westeros all but ignore the Khaleesi, mentioning her only in passing as a minor blip. But the last time someone in Westeros had even one dragon on their side, things got ugly. So even though Daenerys isn't an immediate threat to King's Landing, it's only a matter of time until she's causing havoc throughout the land.
And speaking of ignoring things: Climate change, health care, social security, gun control, student debt — you name it, Washington often seems like it barely cares. Because some of these issues don't necessarily pose an immediate threat, aren't obviously fixable or don't impact rich white men, Washington largely ignores these very real, threatening issues.
Climate change is a scientifically proven problem with terrifying potential and Congress hasn't just ignored it, they've also voted to outright deny its existence. Though guns and gun control continue to pose deadly problems for thousands of Americans, Washington has done basically nothing, resulting in major headaches for President Obama and on average one school shooting every week. Even when it was clear that the United States had a terrible health care system, the Affordable Care Act was nearly impossible to pass and is still routinely attacked by House Republicans. Student debt continues to deal crushing blows to countless young Americans, but Congress isn't interested enough to try to help their own country's future. While an out-of-mind, out-of-sight mindset might be easy, it doesn't change the fact that these problems are real and will soon be impossible to ignore.