There have been countless movies about the make-believe and many of them have been quite successful at the box office. Jurassic Park and Jaws are two examples but there are many others. It makes for good entertainment, but what would happen if fantasy became realty?
That is what is happening today in our nation’s capitol. There is a Beltway that goes around Washington D.C. so that motorists who choose to do so may avoid the city’s traffic. The Beltway also acts as a buffer between the real world and the rest of the country. Inside the Beltway is unlike any other part of the country. Its economy is booming with construction and all sorts of businesses.
Some of the richest counties in the country abut Washington and many of the people who live there either are government workers or have businesses that rely on the government. Interstate 95 and Interstate 395 have been under construction for about 50 years and there doesn’t seem to be an end to it.
I suspect a large percentage of our population does not understand how our elected officials can be so ignorant of what is happening in this country. Inside that Beltway it is a different world, and it is not the typical U.S.A. The term ”Flyover Country” unfortunately is how many of these people think of those not in a major city or inside the Beltway. It does not take long for a new elected official to be seduced by the power and pandering that occurs in Washington. If one is not totally set in his values and principles, the allure of special privileges can be overpowering.
The media within the Beltway generally is quite liberal and good press occurs when actions are supportive of its agenda. Naturally the opposite occurs when the agenda is the opposite of the media’s.
Think about a gang. If one wants to be a member of a particular gang, he must do what the gang does. In Washington, if one wants to be invited to the best parties and receive positive media coverage he must tow the expected line. Chief Justice John Roberts received scathing comments from the media up until the day that he supported Obamacare with his majority ruling. The change in media coverage was like night and day.
These elected officials return to their states or districts routinely, so why do they not understand what is really going on in the country? Most of their time is spent in Washington and the city is full of lobbyists and consultants who rarely leave the nation’s capital and have vested interests in influencing the legislators. They can be very convincing and persuasive, especially to new members. Facts and figures can be adjusted, ignored, or skewed to portray a certain picture to the uninformed. In addition, many staff members remain in Washington if their boss loses an election and can be hired by another representative or senator. They are tied into the Washington psyche and probably really believe it.
I spent more than three years in Washington as commanding officer of the Marine barracks and hosted numerous VIPs at the evening parades on Fridays and the sunset parades on Tuesdays. The difference in attitudes was enlightening and educational. It is easy for the notoriety and perks to go to one’s head if one does not have a firm foundation. I recall a new congressman — he had been a lieutenant in the Corps — meeting the commandant of the Marines, and later remarking how the commandant had called him “sir.” That new congressman’s impression would not last long and I am sure that in a relatively short period of time he would expect it.
It is difficult for anyone to believe that it can be so different inside the Beltway as compared to the rest of the country, but how else can one explain the ignorance and arrogance of so many of our elected officials?
Donald Myers is a retired Marine Colonel and regular contributor to Hernando Today. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.