Day 83: The Imperial City

I don’t know if I’ve written a post like this yet. Who cares? You probably don’t remember, either.

Sitting here at DCA, I can see the Capitol Building through the window. It’s a magnificent structure, always surprising in its size and imposing from any distance. Walk a bit past some of the Smithsonians and you’ll hit the Washington Monument, followed by the WWII Memorial and finally the Lincoln Memorial. Along the way, you’ll pass the aforementioned museums plus other, smaller memorials—Thomas Jefferson, Korea, Vietnam.

It’s a beautiful walk, not only for the architecture, but the remarkable state of the nature, that is—it’s not unkempt or artificial. For the most part, the trees and lawns look nice, the ponds and pools are pristine, and the air is clean.

Still, there’s something about it that seems in direct opposition to our founding principles. Why do government officials—public servants—go to work in such vaunted chambers. How come the president, Chief of Servants, reside in a veritable palace (minus the exotic pets)? Why are the IRS, DOA, FDA, and the rest of the alphabet buildings so grand? Weren’t we fighting to abolish this sort of crass imperial display?

I suppose that’s the story of America, though. High-minded ideals beaten down by human appetites. Washington resigned after two terms of his own volition; now we have a hard stop to curtail ambition. America was founded on the basis of individual liberty; I don’t need to rehearse the familiar litany of her sins for you to make my point.

And our limited government—of, by, for the people, where elected officials would originally return to normal jobs after holding office, not leave with their bank accounts inflated ten or twenty times (or stay in for life, for that matter)—is anything but, cavorting about in domiciles that would make His Majesty George III blush.

But considering we are indeed human, I’d say we’ve still done pretty well.


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