»  Taki's Magazine

July 15th, 2010

  The Last Days of D.C.

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[Note:  I fondly supposed that my vision of government people eating each other was original. Alas, no: A friend points out that Mark Twain wrote a short story on the theme.]

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It is plain that no U.S. administration of any party is going to build a wall along our nation's southern border. "Can't be done," our leaders tell us, shaking their heads in mock despair, while feeling under the desk for the envelopes full of benjamins being passed from cheap-labor lobbyists and race-grievance shills. "Too much border … mountainous terrain … impossible to patrol …"

They are of course lying, but I can't bring myself to care much any more. So far as buildings walls is concerned, a wall along the southern border would in any case be my second priority. If I had my druthers, and there was a 40-foot concrete wall to be built, I'd build it around Washington, D.C.

There would be planning decisions to be made here. Do we build the wall just around the District's boundaries? I'd actually go for a bigger perimeter — the Beltway. You have a good concrete base there already; and you avoid the problems associated with the long river section along the Potomac. Furthermore, you not only capture within your Beltway wall the major parasites — congressmen, lobbyists, judges, Assistants to Deputy Assistant Secretaries, White House staffers, diversity-obsessed generals, and the rest — but also a good slice of the supporting hangers-on: the two-christmas-tree folk about whom Peggy Noonan wrote so expressively a year or so ago.

I understand of course that there would be grave logistical difficulties in getting the wall up. The government people would surely resist; and they control some formidable forces. Those forces might need to be thoroughly subverted before such a thing was possible.

Or perhaps a deceptive strategy might work: pitch a wall to the DC-ers like Tom Sawyer selling his fence-painting work, as something to their advantage. It wouldn't (we could tell them) be motivated by any animosity on our part. Not at all! It would only be a humble recognition, by the common people of the U.S.A., of the loathing that government people rightfully feel towards our worthless selves. Think (we'd say) how delightful it would be for them never again to have to venture out among us — to be able to pass their bills, appropriate their funds, launch their lawsuits, dispatch their troops, and issue their rulings without ever having to look at our warty prole faces or smell our vile bodies! If we pitched it like that, they might fall for it.

Passing over the difficulties of getting the thing done, imagine the benefits for us non-Washingtonians when it was done! We'd have the government people trapped in there, able to exercise authority only over each other. We should of course allow a few openings in the wall: perhaps one at each major compass point, like a medieval walled city.

But then questions of ingress and egress arise. It would be humane to allow basic foodstuffs in, conditional of course on the D.C.-ers henceforth leaving us alone. We should not be too easy-going, though. There is good soil in this area and the inhabitants should be encouraged to practice some self-sufficiency. At the time of Warren Harding's inauguration — which is within living memory, just — there were 200 working farms within the D.C. boundary. President Taft kept a cow in the White House stables (which had stood empty since the coming of the automobile). I mention these facts only to show that the walled-in D.C.-ers would not be without resources.

Others wishing to enter would be subjected to some scrutiny. Do we let in the Middle-Eastern-looking fellow with a panel truck full of fertilizer and nitromethane? Personally I would — one less for us to worry about — but I understand others might feel differently.

As for those wanting to leave, I think we should be generous towards the very young and very old. Towards others, too. Even among the working population of the District, no fair moral evaluation would find every single one complicit in the nation-destroying activities of the federal government. In a previous anti-Washington fantasy I apostrophized the Angel of Death to

  … spare the lesser worker bees,
Federal and private employees,
Working for meager salaries
In government Hell.

The real fun of the thing is of course to dream of the reprisals we could take should the walled-in Washingtonians attempt to re-assert federal power over us.

The simplest thing would just be to shut the gates. If they had not taken the hint from President Taft and moved to agricultural self-sufficiency, the D.C.-ers would soon be reduced to cannibalism. The obsessions with power and status that drive the city would then be turned upside-down, and the phrase "pecking order" would have a whole new meaning. You could not, for example, get much more than a sandwich out of Ruth Bader Ginsburg; but Sonia Sotomayor — Mm, mm, good! The first would be last and the last, first — Barney Frank more sought-after than Nancy Pelosi.

The last days of D.C. would make great reality TV. The citizenry would sit back with complacent pleasure to watch K Street lawyers, congresscritters, GS-15s, and defense lobbyists tearing into each other's sleek, plump flesh with teeth and nails.

Those with stomachs too weak for the spectacle could comfort themselves with the reflection that our nation's capital would soon be calm and quiet, ready for us to start over. The fine monuments and statuary would surely be left intact for our future enjoyment. What could the government people do, in their dying rages, to harm them? Trash the Lincoln Memorial by whacking at it with their blackberries? Kick down the Smithsonian with their wingtip brogues?

How sweet it is to dream! But then you wake, and the armies are still marching to nowhere, and the tax-men are drawing up reams of new forms, and the lawyers are stamping out the last few embers of state autonomy. Washington D.C. is glowing with health; the government people wax ever more numerous and wealthy. We're stuck with the buggers. Where is Alaric the Visigoth when we need him?