Sonny Bunch takes on all the writers who made their careers in Washington, D.C., before claiming that it was insufferable. He highlights, for instance, David Frum who said he had to turn to fiction to describe how horrible it is (for what it's worth, my husband reports that the fiction -- which he just began reading -- is quite good). There's a mention of Conor Friedersdorf's "The Tyranny of Washington, D.C." about how awful it is that all the ideological movements in the country are packed into a single dysfunctional city. And don't forget Glenn Greenwald blaming the fact that he's treated as a fringe figure on how D.C. can't handle his brave truth telling.
Is D.C. simply "too callow to deal with crisis, too cloistered to understand the rest of the country, and too clubby to deal with outside beliefs?" Bunch asks? No:
D.C. isn’t a venal creature of its own creation, as anyone who sticks around long enough comes to realize. Contrary to what the discourse police will have you believe, it’s a town populated by powerbrokers elected by voters who solicit campaign contributions from the employers of voters to lobby on the behalf of the companies that pay their salaries. If the public wants to be disappointed with anyone for gridlock in the Senate and a super-partisan House and a White House more interested in pushing radical health care reform instead of dealing with the economic crisis, well, they should look in the mirror.
It’s not as if the masses are clamoring to get control of spending or to raise their own taxes—there isn’t a majority to cut a single category of spending, and the only group willing to increase taxes are the poor on the rich. (And even that support is in decline.) Medicare will bankrupt America; Social Security will go bankrupt before that happens; or wars will do what Medicare and Social Security failed to do.
Taxes aren’t going up anytime soon, nor should they since they’ll retard growth. Or maybe they should go up immediately since, you know, all the bankrupting and tax cuts don’t retard growth at all. If only Greenwald’s bold truth-tellers could rack up better than, well, last place among serious candidates, we could fix things.
We face hard choices and the public doesn’t want to make them. And since the public doesn’t want to make them, the people they send to Washington have no incentive to make them. All the tent dwelling, Tea Partying in the world isn’t going to change that.
If D.C. is cynical, it’s only because six percent of the people who send their representatives to work there think Thurgood Marshall is the chief justice of the Supreme Court. What do you expect?
The discourse police who fret over the state of our nation’s capital should turn their eyes elsewhere if they want to solve said nation’s problems.
Put another way, we can't get mad at Mitt Romney or President Obama for proposing the same policy on student loan rates if we can't muster the pressure against either of them to be fiscally responsible.
I'd be mad, but I think Bunch is right. We get the political leadership we deserve.