Lessons from Underwood’s Congress

I watched 26 hours worth of House of Cards last week. That’s over a day of my life spent listening to Kevin Spacey’s hilarious yet terrifying monologues.

After I finished the second season, my parents told me to watch the BBC version of House of Cards. Moreover, they said it was “equal if not better” to the American version.  I’ve never felt so deceived in my life.

But the blunder that is BBC’s House of Cards made me realize something important. I didn’t become quickly obsessed with the Underwoods  because Kevin Spacey’s voice is delightfully Southern, or because Robin Wright’s not-quite-a-pixie-cut is 10 times better than my hair will ever be or even because I find government scandals to be good entertainment.

No, I became obsessed with House of Cards because secretly, it’s what I want the American government to be, sociopaths and all.

There is no denying the striking similarities between our current state of the union and theirs—and not just that the show includes tea partiers and 99 percenters alike. I mean that if you close your eyes (or look at your other open tabs) while the president is talking, he sounds an awful lot like Jay Pharoah’s impression of President Obama. That midwestern, “down to earth” business man? Surely, he has to be based off of Warren Buffett. House of Cards makes it more than easy to believe that you’re not watching a made-up drama, but you’re watching Congress in action.

House of Cards made me believe, at least for the 26 hours I spent watching it, that there are politicians smarter and shrewder than I am. It made me believe that Congress accomplishes more than a Canadian immigrant reading Green Eggs and Ham aloud. It made me believe that I didn’t live in the era of dysfunctional government that I do live in.

More than murder was being accomplished on Capitol Hill. Education reform was passed, actual steps towards solving the sexual assault problem in the military were made and all without the government needing to shut down for 20-some days.

House of Cards made me realize I do not really care how bills are made law or how sordid the doings of politicians really are. No matter how despicable Frank Underwood gets, I would still want him to be my president.  I’d still want him to lead my country.

The 26 hours I spent last week taught me more about my political beliefs than any Civics class or CNN special. It made me realize that the ludicrous idea Bill Clinton couldn’t lead the country because of Monica Lewinsky was just that: ludicrous. It made me realize the mudslinging and dirt-finding campaigns of Democrats and Republicans alike hold no value. A politician should not be judged on solely his or her past (though admittedly, I’d like for that past to not be only a list of federal crimes), but rather on his or her past accomplishments.

I don’t really care whether my politicians would combust if they stepped inside a church. I care whether my politicians can make a political machine so efficient that I don’t have to worry about it. And if that machine requires backchannel deals and extortion, who am I to judge?

After all, as Frank Underwood so eloquently put,  “For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted.”