Throughout our modern political history, there have been many a candidate running for national office who favored setting up Washington D. C. as the proverbial straw man to be knocked down for our benefit. Yet, the pathetic outcome of this political kabuki dance is often lost on the voting public. Once these men and women of the majestic lands “outside of the beltway” enter the District of Columbia, they often end up becoming the insiders that their former selves railed against.
You’ll often hear candidates say that they should be sent to Washington to clean house and shake things up, but therein lies the problem–government does not work that way. To get anything done one must build coalitions and yes, compromise, even if it’s done begrudgingly.
The Republican House leadership may have wanted to be tea party darlings, but some of them also realized that to keep the House functioning—they’d have to seek another path, which is what Boehner and others did. And what of that freshmen class of tea partiers elected in 2010? Why, they’ve also had to be put in their places and succumb to the GOP House leadership.
It seems that their revolt is going to take longer than they or their movement anticipated. Yet, that is how it works. You have to work within the system while slowly taking it over, if they can. By the time that revolt, if successful, is completed the antagonists will find soon enough that they too have become insiders themselves.
I guess the point I’m making is this: it’s all right to be an insider so long you hold on to your principles. Actually, I think that you need to become an insider and know your colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the institutions of government to be effective. People are often frustrated with Washington without fully understanding how government works; this is where laws are made. You can’t live without government and you can’t live without Washington D.C. However, the one issue that people outside of the beltway have with D.C. that I find relevant is their complaint about gridlock and polarization.
Also I’d like to say that Washington D.C. is not Mars. There are regular people who live and work here, despite what Mitt Romney seems to think.
From the Washington Monthly’s – Political Animal blog:
“[W]e need to send to Washington someone who has not lived in Washington, but someone who’s lived in the real streets of America…. We need to have someone outside Washington go to Washington.” [emphasis added]
First of all, like Steve Benen says, I hardly doubt that Mitt Romney lives anywhere near a “real American street.” With that said, I would like to remind people that D.C. is a real American city. It’s citizens are taxed without representation I might add. Not everyone here works for the federal government, a think tank or even a NGO—though a majority of us do. There are people here just trying to make a living like everyone else in this country.
Lastly, despite the amount of vitriol that is often directed at this city; I would like to point out that we still get a large number of tourists. This is the nation’s capital and it is still something to be revered. So stop hating on D.C. and find a new straw man or woman for that matter.