The Washington Post recently published a piece written by a D.C. resident about how Washington, D.C. has now become a “cool” city. It is one of the finest examples of the “inside the Beltway” mentality ever penned and includes some great passages, like this one:
“Much of Washington in 2018 arguably has more in common with the country’s hippest neighborhoods — Williamsburg in New York, Silver Lake in Los Angeles, the Inner Mission in San Francisco — than it does with the less cool cities of middle America.”
Hey, on behalf of everyone in “middle America,” thanks! And then there’s this classic:
“Like all hip cities, contemporary Washington combines cool with a distinctive local flavor. New York is where cool meets money, Los Angeles is where cool meets beauty, San Francisco is where cool meets technology — and Washington is where cool meets government. That combination has created a class of people unique in American history. If the late 1990s and 2000s produced the hipster as a new type of cool in some of America’s more stylish cities, the more recent past has produced Washington’s version of it: the govster — a person who is able to enjoy the benefits of living in a cool city while also working for the federal government or somehow exercising influence over the direction of national politics.”
Wait a second — this writer thinks hipsters are cool, rather than an unending subject of mockery and derision? And he so aspires to hipster status that he actually wants to give a special, hipster-knockoff name to Washington, D.C. residents? That’s pretty telling. And notwithstanding the writer’s claim to cool status, the name “govster” isn’t exactly a cool name, is it? It’s like the “Family Truckster” vehicle that Clark Griswold drove in the first Vacation movie. The writer has somehow coined a term that manages to be both clunky and pretentious at the same time, just like a lot of the program ideas and acronyms that the people working in D.C. regularly develop.
But don’t worry — the “govster” who wrote the article is motivated by altruistic purposes. He’s worried that Washington, D.C. may have become too cool for the poor, benighted hayseeds in the flyover country:
“Life in the capital may be good for the govster, but is it good for the country? Cool cities, after all, thrive precisely because they offer what the rest of the country cannot. Yet capitals have different purposes. If the government is to be of the people and for the people, then the capital must be able to relate to the people — and the people to the capital. A dynamic country may need a little cool in its capital; but have things in Washington gone too far? The question is as old as the republic, and arguably more important than ever.”
I have no objection to having a little pride in your city; I fully admit to being a booster of Columbus. And when Kish and I lived in D.C. we enjoyed it. But the notion that people in D.C., like the guy who wrote this article, now think that Washington, D.C. is just too cool for the rest of the United States is deeply disturbing. It’s bad enough that those of us out in the country at large have had to deal with the stupid power games and pointless political machinations of the politicos in D.C. Now we also have to grapple with the knowledge that the laws, regulations, and other governmental initiatives imposed upon us are being administered by “govsters”: “a person who is able to enjoy the benefits of living in a cool city while also working for the federal government or somehow exercising influence over the direction of national politics.”
I shudder to think of it.