For more than two centuries, it has been a wannabe among the great world capitals. But now, Washington is finally ready for its close-up.
No longer a jumped-up Canberra or, worse, Sacramento, it seems about to emerge as Pyongyang on the Potomac, the undisputed center of national power and influence. As a new president takes over the White House, the United States’ capacity for centralization has arguably never been greater. But it’s neither Barack Obama’s charm nor his intentions that are driving the centrifugal process that’s concentrating authority in the capital city. It’s the unprecedented collapse of rival centers of power.
This is most obvious in economic affairs, an area in which the nation’s great regions have previously enjoyed significant autonomy. But already the dukes of Wall Street and Detroit have submitted their papers to Washington for vassalage. Soon many other industries, from high-tech to agriculture and energy, will become subject to a Kremlin full of special czars. Even the most haughty boyar may have to genuflect to official orthodoxy on everything from social equity to sanctioned science.
It’s not good news for the country. Â The fact that we had a backwater Capital is something that’s made this country great. Â The day Washington DC becomes the center of life, commerce and culture in this Republic is the day we ought to think about hanging it up.