Stop Blaming “Washington”

“‘Earmarks are a symptom of wasteful Washington spending that the American people have said they want reformed,’ [Texas Republican Sen. John] Cornyn told reporters,” reports today’s Washington Post (Republican senators say they’ll vote against their own earmarks).

I know that when it’s used in this sense, “Washington” means so much more than the 68 square mile piece of land along the Potomac River and its 600,000 inhabitants. But as one of those inhabitants for over seventeen years, it irks me to no end that “Washington” as a word so often becomes politicians’ shorthand way of doing just what Sen. Cornyn did to describe all that is bad with federal government and politics.  The truth is, it’s not Washington that spends money or that imposes taxes or that sneaks earmarks into legislation.  No, it’s the very politicians from Texas and Florida and Kansas and South Dakota and every other state in the nation that sends Texans and Floridians and Kansans and South Dakotans to do these things. Instead of blaming “Washington” — whose citizens don’t even have the full representation that the citizens of these other states enjoy — why don’t these senators and representatives take responsibility for their own actions and simply replace “Washington” with “we” or “senators and representatives.” More honestly, Cornyn should have said, “Earmarks are a symptom of wasteful spending by me and my fellow senators…”

That would certainly be more accurate, though perhaps, like earmarks themselves, just a little too close to home.

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