“As other American fiefdoms fade, Washington looms larger than ever” reports the Washington Post, explaining that while Washington has historically played second fiddle to American cities such as New York and Chicago and the capitals of other powerful nations, like London and Paris, it has seen an unprecedented rise in both power and popularity over the last century.
Far from remaining the “muddy outpost in the woods” which struck Toqueville as an appropriate capital for a federal republic, Washington switched from a significantly low growth rate in the 1800s to a population expansion “three or more times faster than other cities along the Boston-Washington corridor” in the second half of the 20th century. The D.C. area remains comparatively untouched by the current depression, and its income is about 50% higher than the national average.
In the past other American cities gained power through “trade, the production of goods and scientific innovations, as well as the peddling of ideas and culture.” Now, as Wall Street, Detroit, and other industries turn to Washington ever more for money and regulation, and once powerful states like New York and California look to the federal government for debt relief, the transfer of power to Washington continues to accelerate. The story concludes:
Over time, those of us in the provinces may grow to resent all this, seeing in Washington’s ascendancy something obtrusive, oppressive and contrary to the national ethos. But don’t expect Washingtonians to care much. They’ll be too busy running the country, when not chortling all the way to the bank.
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