Saturday, September 01, 2001

Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an editorial which helped crystallize my thinking on a subject that's been bubbling quietly on the backburner of my subconscious for some time now.

Elected officials in this country often make the point that their home state/district/town is part of the Heartland of America, populated by Real People. This is common political parlance nearly everywhere, though less frequent in the northern half of the Eastern Seaboard. It's a favorite crutch for office holders throughout the political spectrum. President-select Bush is particularly fond of it.

Almost as often, this praise of the locals is coupled with a contrasting of said folks to the denizens of the DC area. They complain about the rancorous atmosphere of Washington. They make snide, sneering remarks about "Beltway insiders," turning the highway looping around the District through Maryland and Virginia into a psychological boundary between the honest, hard-working people of this land and the region where all the dirty, grimy "politics" happens.

What's implicit in this convenient shorthand is that folks like myself who work and live inside the Beltway (the distinction between the general populace and the opposing pols they would say they're actually attacking is purposely, telling never made) are fake people, unavoidably tainted by the political process and all its insidious machinations. We don't hold the same values as those in the Heartland. We don't put a premium on friendship, truth, or justice. We avoid rolling up our sleeves and solving a difficult problem at all costs, content to ignore it and let it fester regardless of any detrimental effects it might be causing. The rest of the country is righteous; we are Sodom-on-the-Potomac.

But where is "the Heartland?" Since so many ideas, so much economic power and such a large cohort of this country's best and brightest flow into, through and out of this region, we've as much claim to being the Heartland as anywhere else, maybe even a tad more than most. Perhaps if those representatives of The People could change their view of Washington DC from a cesspool of iniquity where they must toil to a zone where revitalization and possibilities can flourish, they could get more accomplished for all the citizens of the United States. Including fake ones like myself.
Posted @ 12:35 PM


Am we talking to myselves?

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