“I am prepared to be the most hated man in this godforsaken city in order to save this country, and I need your help.” – Senator Orinn Hatch, (R-UT), 2/11/2012
It’s always fun to watch a politician condemn Washington right before having his car service take him back to his choice spots on the Finance and Judiciary committees. Senator Hatch has been here since 1976. If D.C. is a godforsaken city, then godforsaken cities must totally be his jam.
The easiest way for a politician to get a positive response out of a crowd is to insult Washington. Ronald Reagan’s “Nine Most Terrifying Words” joke is still remarkably popular and is still considered funny, despite the fact that there is a hieroglyphic of him telling that joke on the walls of King Tut’s tomb. Politicians continue to drag that nugget of wit out to much chuckling, nodding and general approbation from the crowds, which are mostly populated with people who have never been to Washington, or their own state capitals, or even their own city council meetings.
Speaking as someone who was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, I can say one thing with great certainty: We don’t like you very much, either. Here’s why.
Think of Washington, D.C. as an empty vessel to be filled by everyone in the nation. If the vessel ends up looking like the spittoon in a frontier brothel instead of a vase of roses, that is not the fault of the vessel.
We did not ask you to send us these people, yet every two years you send us the same pack of weasels, dullards, hacks and shills that you always do. You merely vote for them and send them on their way. We’re the ones who have to live with them, work with them and cater to their sometimes utterly absurd whims on a daily basis.
Thanks for sending us all those guys who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, America! That really makes hammering out education and science policies a lot easier. It also makes working on climate change legislation an absolute breeze. Also, thanks for sending us people who see Atlas Shrugged as a moral guidepost and not terrible science fiction. Having someone around who thinks of the poor as “the moochers” and “the looters” really helps when it comes to figuring out our problems with Social Security in a practical manner.
We would also like to thank you for making politicians slaves to campaign donations. This current system that we have was thought up by elected representatives, all sent here by you. We know the popular mythology is that of the evil lobbyist tempting the white knight congressman with a briefcase full of cash, but that isn’t how it actually works. A congressman has to raise thousands of dollars every day just to keep his campaign remotely competitive. Your congressman is not excused from having to do this, whether he is a tea partier or whether he contributes to the Daily Kos in his free time. I’m willing to bet that you didn’t give your congressman any money at all this week, so the odds are that he got it at a fundraising event, to which he specifically invited all of those lobbyists you despise so much. In other words, congressmen call lobbyists to beg for loot much more than lobbyists call congressman to beg for legislative perks and favors. If anybody in D.C. is looking at their caller ID and muttering “For crying out loud, leave me ALONE, already,” it’s the guys on K and Eye Streets, and not the guys on Capitol Hill. We could easily change this by having standardized, pre-formatted and publically funded campaigns, but any attempts at changing this system are routinely derailed by elected representatives, all sent here by you.
Many of us are distressed at the idea of using taxpayer dollars to pay for somebody’s campaign, but do consider that if we don’t, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Monsanto, BP, Pfizer, Merck, State Farm, ExxonMobil, Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are more than willing to open their wallets. Congress goes to them like a pre-teen looking for his allowance. With this system in place, we’ll be sure to clean up Wall Street’s excesses in no time!
Of the much-scorned government workers here in D.C., a significant percentage of them spend their days fielding requests for enormous piles of federal money, often from the rugged, individualist red states who simply want that pesky government out of their lives. Another significant percentage of government workers have the job of being accused of tyranny and over-reach when they attempt to determine how those rugged, individualist red states are spending all the federal money that they received. The people who request these billions and billions of dollars in federal money while simultaneously declaring that the Federal Government creates no jobs are elected representatives, all sent here by you.
Gnash your teeth about “government bureaucrats” all you want, but all of them are merely following rules that were put into place by elected representatives, all sent here by you. In fact, if anybody is absolutely blameless in this whole debacle that is our government right now, it’s the residents of Washington, DC. They have no representation in Congress. They have no say. There’s Eleanor Holmes Norton, but she’s a “member of Congress” sort of like how Marvin, Wendy, and Wonderdog were “members” of the Superfriends. Her powers are limited to saying “tssk-tssk” every now and then. She has no voting power whatsoever, so Washingtonians don’t either.
Here’s the point. This is your mess, not ours. You don’t show up for primaries, you remain uninvolved in the process, you don’t pay attention until things get sexy in November, you continue to send the same people back again and again, you continue to think that your Congressman or Senator is the only one “fighting the good fight” when in fact he’s just like the rest of them, and then you wonder why D.C. is, in the words of longtime resident Senator Hatch, “Godforsaken?”
Here’s a mirror. Have a look.