Washington, DC is a hard place to like, especially these days. DC and its environs, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia, is an extravagantly wealthy and powerful locale. Per the Fox Business website, nine of the 20 wealthiest counties in the nation by household income are located in the DC area.
The richest, Loudoun County, Virginia, is where I grew up and took my high school diploma in May 1981. (Fun fact: Los Alamos County, N.M. clocks in at number four.)
Now the United States is the most wealthy, most powerful, and most influential nation-state in recorded history; the notion of American exceptionalism is most definitely a thing, and a real thing at that.
Every other nation state on the planet knows this. So it stands to reason that the nation’s capital would be correspondingly wealthy, powerful, and influential. One cannot expect that such a nation could be run out of a collection of pleasant Potomac River bungalows with attached three-season porches.
The disdain, even revulsion, at such a concentration of wealth and power is understandable. Washington reigns over the country in a lordly, detached way.
Its political-industrial complex has grown to the point that even local New Mexico candidates pay top dollar for the services of DC area political consultants, all in the service of winning political contests. But these DC consultants know nothing of local issues or politics. All they know how to do is win elections, local needs or issues be damned. The point is not to solve local problems in a way that benefits the locality as a whole.
The point is to win, and then to figure out how to keep winning. Local needs or issues be damned.
It was not always this way in Loudoun County, at least in the 70s. Loudoun was decidedly rural back then. Dulles Airport, now a gargantuan sprawl of runways, terminals, and taxi stands, was built, literally, in the middle of corn fields (really, I was there). A good day of fun amongst the local high school yahoos was to jump off the north side of the Broad Run creek bridge and then raise your fists in triumph. (Another fun fact: Creeks in Northern Virginia have actual water in them, all year long.) It was a place and time when a similar group of high school yahoos could be cracking brews on a secluded roadside, and then a sheriff’s deputy would arrive unannounced before the bottles could be disposed. Luckily, turns out that the deputy was Larry Beardsley’s older brother, and several of said yahoos knew Larry personally because, you know, high school. “Pour ‘em out, and go home.”
Not everything that comes out of the DC area is deserving of scorn.
The folk who live and work in the DC area now, native or imported, are earnest and honorable strivers. They are smart, well-credentialed, and possessed of good faith and good will.
Some examples: Mike McGowan, who in 1980 had a distinct distaste for Bob Segar and the Silver Bullet Band, took a job at a local grocery store and is now working in a management role. Terri Brannon, who dated the most handsome and charismatic member of the varsity basketball team, works as a school administrator. And Kevin Barron, who became one of this writer’s best friends in their 20s, consults with local jurisdictions to improve traffic flow patterns.
Like the East Mountains, the DC Metro area is a place that many good people call home. Imagine the East Mountain folk you who have come to know and come to like and love, like the staff at the Edgewood Smith’s who are always ready to help an elderly woman carry her groceries into the parking lot and place them in the trunk of her car. And the convenience store clerk who recognizes you and shares a pleasant greeting.
The folk in DC are just like that. I know. I have been there.
Darrell Allen is an attorney specializing in criminal defense and employment law. Politically, he is diametrically opposed to his wife of 25 years. He lives north of I-40 where he and his family run two head of dog, and one of cat.