Washingtonitis

The macabre spectacle of media and legislators feverishly blathering about the meaning of imagined machinations to affect our last presidential election by foreign powers and feasting on every crumb of invented gossip shows just how desperately out of touch our nation's capital is with the land it governs and the people it milks for the benefit of its establishment.

More than any other problem our nation faces – indeed, the principal source of most of the problems our nation faces – is Washington.  The highest per capita incomes in America are those counties in Virginia and Maryland whose commuters work as bureaucrats, lobbyists, lawyers, judicial clerks, legislative staffers, and other useless folks who would not be missed by the vast majority of Americans if they were all teleported to Mars tomorrow.

Washington today is incomparably more remote from Americans than London was from Americans in 1776.  Flyover Country seems in many respects simply a disempowered collection of despised colonies whose farmers, lumbermen, oilmen, and cattlemen are treated as contemptuously as London and its elites once treated the hardworking folk of Scotland and Ireland.

Washingtonians today are more ignorant of and indifferent to the plight of ordinary people who live in Flyover Country than Parisians were to the plight of French peasants in the countryside in 1789.  The contemporary equivalent to Versailles on the eve of the French Revolution is Washington and New York, whose elites truly care only about their power, their privileges, and their position as official scold of the hinterland rabble.

Until the problem of Washington is fixed, nothing will be fixed, and the momentum into the chasm most of us now see we are sliding toward will continue unabated.  This is not a partisan problem that can be fixed by a Republican president and Congress (as we are seeing now), and it is not a policy problem that can be cured by lower taxes, deregulation, and similar positive changes in economic policy.

The problem with Washington is a fundamental and structural problem in a republic that once clung to the Atlantic seaboard with a small federal government whose seat was physically near most Americans – and that today is simply another arrogant imperial capital physically, spiritually, and intellectually divorced from its subjects (no longer, really, its citizens).

What can be done?  Well, what is needed and what alone will do is a political revolution.  Restoring and, indeed, expanding the rights of state governments would probably work, but that can be done only if state governments and a few champions in Washington push hard for that revolutionary change. 

Strip federal courts, except the Supreme Court, of subject matter jurisdiction over states (which is what the 11th Amendment was intended to do) and over federal questions.  Then devolve to state governments the power to enforce federal laws and rules, dismantling the gargantuan federal civil service.  These two reforms would create a dynamic of basic devolution of power back to the states.

Move Congress to some medium-sized city in the middle of America – each house of Congress can meet wherever that house wishes – and have President Trump move to that location as well, with a promise to continue moving the seat of legislative and executive offices after each presidential election.  That would bring Flyover Country back into the dialog of our nation.

Finally, through a Convention of the States, propose a series of amendments that return to states power to control a rogue federal government, like having state legislatures choose senators again, and, perhaps, expand the protections of states by having the Convention of the States meet at least once every ten years to specifically address usurpation of the rights of the states by the different branches of the federal government.

We must have this sort of peaceful but dramatic change in our hyper-centralized political and governmental system.  Who is the champion of this change?  None of the current crop of talking heads in Washington, all of whom secretly crave to be the next chief nabob in that city, seems very interested at all.  They all have Washingtonitis.

The need is great; the cause is noble; and the hour is very, very short.

The macabre spectacle of media and legislators feverishly blathering about the meaning of imagined machinations to affect our last presidential election by foreign powers and feasting on every crumb of invented gossip shows just how desperately out of touch our nation's capital is with the land it governs and the people it milks for the benefit of its establishment.

More than any other problem our nation faces – indeed, the principal source of most of the problems our nation faces – is Washington.  The highest per capita incomes in America are those counties in Virginia and Maryland whose commuters work as bureaucrats, lobbyists, lawyers, judicial clerks, legislative staffers, and other useless folks who would not be missed by the vast majority of Americans if they were all teleported to Mars tomorrow.

Washington today is incomparably more remote from Americans than London was from Americans in 1776.  Flyover Country seems in many respects simply a disempowered collection of despised colonies whose farmers, lumbermen, oilmen, and cattlemen are treated as contemptuously as London and its elites once treated the hardworking folk of Scotland and Ireland.

Washingtonians today are more ignorant of and indifferent to the plight of ordinary people who live in Flyover Country than Parisians were to the plight of French peasants in the countryside in 1789.  The contemporary equivalent to Versailles on the eve of the French Revolution is Washington and New York, whose elites truly care only about their power, their privileges, and their position as official scold of the hinterland rabble.

Until the problem of Washington is fixed, nothing will be fixed, and the momentum into the chasm most of us now see we are sliding toward will continue unabated.  This is not a partisan problem that can be fixed by a Republican president and Congress (as we are seeing now), and it is not a policy problem that can be cured by lower taxes, deregulation, and similar positive changes in economic policy.

The problem with Washington is a fundamental and structural problem in a republic that once clung to the Atlantic seaboard with a small federal government whose seat was physically near most Americans – and that today is simply another arrogant imperial capital physically, spiritually, and intellectually divorced from its subjects (no longer, really, its citizens).

What can be done?  Well, what is needed and what alone will do is a political revolution.  Restoring and, indeed, expanding the rights of state governments would probably work, but that can be done only if state governments and a few champions in Washington push hard for that revolutionary change. 

Strip federal courts, except the Supreme Court, of subject matter jurisdiction over states (which is what the 11th Amendment was intended to do) and over federal questions.  Then devolve to state governments the power to enforce federal laws and rules, dismantling the gargantuan federal civil service.  These two reforms would create a dynamic of basic devolution of power back to the states.

Move Congress to some medium-sized city in the middle of America – each house of Congress can meet wherever that house wishes – and have President Trump move to that location as well, with a promise to continue moving the seat of legislative and executive offices after each presidential election.  That would bring Flyover Country back into the dialog of our nation.

Finally, through a Convention of the States, propose a series of amendments that return to states power to control a rogue federal government, like having state legislatures choose senators again, and, perhaps, expand the protections of states by having the Convention of the States meet at least once every ten years to specifically address usurpation of the rights of the states by the different branches of the federal government.

We must have this sort of peaceful but dramatic change in our hyper-centralized political and governmental system.  Who is the champion of this change?  None of the current crop of talking heads in Washington, all of whom secretly crave to be the next chief nabob in that city, seems very interested at all.  They all have Washingtonitis.

The need is great; the cause is noble; and the hour is very, very short.

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