What is the pragmatic answer to Salena Zito’s idealist’s challenge?

Salena Zito's snapshot of kids in DC

So much is broken

After a century of increasingly uncontrolled progressivism, nothing is working as it should.

Progressives, of course, prescribe more cowbell.

Conservatives who’ve gone native in Washington—those politicians who only love welfare if big corporations are the recipients—want to slow the growth of government, but not reverse it.

I want to go back.

Not to an America of slavery and then Jim Crow.

But back to the Founders vision as seen through Lincoln’s ideals.

To the America that de Tocqueville saw and wrote about.

I think it would look good in modern clothes.

But how do we get there?

Salena Zito has been writing lately about a new wave of populism (and faux populism) coming to life in our politics now.

In her Sunday column (Where America, big government collide) she describes an America heading back home, looking to solutions more stateward-focused (and I assume, local) than we’ve seen in a long time.

And she contrasts that movement with Washington as it has come to be.

A subtle but constant collision occurs in the nation’s capital every day.

It is something that people who work here wouldn’t necessarily notice because of their jobs, or that first-time visitors might overlook as they take in the architecture and history.

On one side you have the sheer weight and power of the federal bureaucracy that so irks and burdens Americans.

A bureaucracy of over 2,000 “overlapping, under-performing, over-regulating, inefficient agencies.” So huge and so removed from the oversight of the people they supposedly serve that none of us can fathom their reach and activities.

Which leads to the other side of the coin — the hopefulness, curiosity, respect and awe prompted by a visit to Capitol Hill, despite all of the mess that is Washington.

I don’t want to excerpt any more of the thought Salena develops here (I urge you to read them yourself in context). It’s a picture of the idealism of America as it was designed to be at cross purposes with “those who wield the power and cause the ineffectiveness.”

The country seems headed in two directions, at different levels.
At the national level, where Republicans once held a marginal advantage in presidential politics, Democrats now seem to have gained momentum. At the state and local level, however, the trend has reversed, with the GOP turning the tables on Democrats.

This is a trend I support.

My question

How do we protect this stateward trend, and nurture it?

We can’t do it by focusing everything on states and local government while allowing Washington to continue its progressive experiment, because Washington will surely strike back.


A lot of what’s wrong locally—schools, over-militarized police, abuse of eminent domain (and more, you name it)—begins with the powers that be in Washington.

There’s a lot of swamp to drain in DC.

My focus these days is on identifying and electing a new generation of political leaders who will get about draining it.

Photo by Salen Zito. Used with permission.


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