Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘Washington Versus America’

Full piece here.

Douthat arrives at a Beltway party, of sorts:

‘In reality, our government isn’t running trillion-dollar deficits because we’re letting the working class get away with not paying its fair share. We’re running those deficits because too many powerful interest groups have a stake in making sure the party doesn’t stop.

When you look around the richest precincts of today’s Washington, you don’t see a city running on paternalism or dependency. You see a city running on exploitation.’

I can’t blame the folks who’ve moved to D.C. to seek their fortunes, to go where the the jobs are, to go where their spouses are as part of a larger demographic trend, but it’s a company town, and that company’s business is politics.

I don’t know for sure if America is in decline or just in a depression, or near-depression with a very polarized politics at the moment.  Perhaps we’re in relative decline compared with other emerging nations as some have argued, and it’s possible that everyone focusing upon our politics may be a sign of of decline.

Since 1988:  George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton for two terms, George W. Bush, almost Hilary Clinton, (still out there for 2016?).  Maybe our political life has calcified, as though we stopped looking forward in a way, directing American idealism and opportunity instead through Washington as a means to other ends.

The less people have, and the less they’re confident in having enough of something, in my experience, the more they focus on what’s there, and fight over it.

Just to be contrarian, too, there may come a time when fighting to maintain what’s in Washington, and what’s here, and what can be, becomes just as important as riding the public wave of sentiment building against it.

All of this said, these are some darker thoughts on a Monday morning, which have little analysis and probably even less predictive value.  Obviously, as Douthat points out, Washington’s grown enormously of late.

Related On This Site:  The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Richard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set

Did the same thing happen in higher ed..ever more inclusion and divvying up the pie until we can’t any longer?:  On this site, see: Louis Menand At The New Yorker: ‘Live And Learn: Why We Have College’..
 Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  He has a big vision with some holes in it, but it’s one that embraces change boldly.
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