For one brief, shining moment, erstwhile no-filter loon Howard Dean said something almost all Americans could agree with: Washington, D.C. is clueless. Here’s the excerpt, via the Yahoo! News Twitter account:
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) October 11, 2016
(Those interested in the full interview can find it here)
While it’s true that Dean was a governor for a long time and governors in both parties often build up some anti-D.C. feelings, he was also the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee for four years so he definitely has some Beltway taint on him. So, even Beltway people know that the Beltway is full of idiots.
Katie Couric’s follow-up question is surprising only because she is the one asking it, but it is the question that probably popped into the heads of most watching this interview.
Why do we keep sending Washington people to Washington when so many of us think that Washington is the problem?
This doesn’t only apply to Hillary Clinton but it’s definitely relevant, as evidenced by Dean’s awful response to Couric’s question and subsequent flailing as he attempts to make a case for Her Madameship. Mrs. C’s central selling point in the campaign has been her experience, which consists of living in the White House, working in the Senate, and being four heartbeats away from the presidency thanks to her Cabinet-level position.
Sounds pretty heavy on the “Washington” doesn’t it?
The D.C. brand is so awful that running as an “outsider” has been a popular ploy for both Republicans and Democrats for years. The D.C. people are so awful that they will tell the American people they’re running as outsiders despite having been there for decades. Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders are examples of this from recent elections. They really do think the flyover country hoi polloi are too stupid to notice that they’ve been working in Washington all along.
At what point, though, do we begin blaming the electorate for the sorry state of “elected” officials? The perennially low approval ratings for Congress and the fact that those same officials keep getting re-elected is evidence of more than a small disconnect in the minds of the voters. It’s practically a full psychotic break. Sure, it’s a somewhat rigged system that makes it easier for incumbents to marshal troops and funding, but this isn’t Cuba. We can still unseat these people.
It’s no secret that a lot of Donald Trump’s initial appeal was rooted in the fact that he doesn’t talk like a politician. Politicians running for office are like NFL head coaches at post-game press conferences: you pretty much know everything they are going to say before they say it. The only variable in the political game is the party.
Even if Trump doesn’t prevail in this election that raw outsider appeal isn’t going away. American voters are restless. If Hillary wins, the Democrats who can barely stand her but will vote for her won’t have Trump to whine about anymore and will quickly remember why they find her loathsome. The anti-Washington angst will continue to grow in both parties. Just because the Tea Party movement has fractured doesn’t mean another version of it won’t crop up soon. On the other side, those Bernie supporters are young and still angry. They may find a real outsider champion soon.
The semi-rigged system and years of voter apathy make this kind of change a slow one, but the change is truly happening. It just may not happen in one or two election cycles. The disgruntled electorate won’t suddenly be soothed once this highly contentious campaign is over. At some point, the voters will realize they have more power than they have been wielding.
Then you’ll see the real sweating begin in D.C.