A District of Ice and Fire

Jul 8th, 2012 | By | Category: Politics, Washington, DC

It’s been a month since Game of Thrones, HBO’s fantasy series based on the novels of George R. R. Martin, wrapped up its second season. And the more we rewatch episodes via OnDemand, the more Martin’s sprawling epic of dragons, ice demons, and warring dynasties feels like an allegory for our situation here in the District: The good guys have fatal flaws, the bad guys nevertheless do plenty of good, and everything is always more complicated than it first seems.

When you play the game of thrones in Westeros, you win or you die. In D.C., you just get indicted.

House Stark
Winter is coming, but not if global warming gets here first. Like D.C.’s smart-growth set, the Starks of the North have a rigid moral code and a tiny sense of humor—and in a just world, they might come out on top. But politics is a nuanced business, in D.C. as in Westeros, and the Starks just aren’t conniving enough for the long game. Like Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, Robb Stark has good intentions and little interest in realpolitik, traits that will undermine his executive ambitions. Like Bran, Robb’s crippled younger brother, progressive Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie may spend some time in the political wilderness, but somewhere down the line he could play a decisive role. Foiled At-Large candidate Bryan Weaver has a kindred spirit in Jon Snow, the bastard of the Stark clan, exiled to a life of possibly futile service at The Wall (or in D.C. terms, the movement to end corporate campaign giving). And who could forget the Starks’ bog-dwelling allies the Crannogmen—otherwise known as the writers of Greater Greater Washington?

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