As Washington Becomes a Political War Zone, Look for More Talk of Moving the National Government Out of DC

While President Trump has been an ever more polarizing figure in Washington since November 8, 2016, it was clear from the start that the nation’s capital has become ever more hostile to Republicans. The city has gone from 2016’s “We don’t want you here, Mr. Trump” to the current “You and your people are not welcome to live in our neighborhoods or eat in our restaurants.”

See this post from three days after the election that was an early warning to President Trump and his administration:

No Warm Welcome to Washington for You, Mr. Trump

The Washington Post today suggested that 10-year-old Barron Trump might be better off staying in his private school in New York City rather than moving to Washington where he might find some “social bumps” in schools such as Sidwell Friends, the private school attended by the two Obama daughters and Chelsea Clinton.

The Washingtonian was even more direct with a we-don’t-want-you-here piece by senior editor Marisa Kashino, who wrote, “I don’t want Donald Trump to be my neighbor, and I don’t want him to be my neighbors’ neighbor. The 96 percent of District residents who did not vote for him ostensibly feel the same.”

A very reluctant welcome to Washington, Mr. President.
The District of Columbia, with just over 600,000 Trump-hating residents, actually is only 10 percent of the Washington metro area population of about 6 million. Maybe the president-elect will be treated better in the suburbs than in DC?

In Fairfax County, the biggest suburban area in Northern Virginia, Donald Trump got 29 percent of the vote, Hillary Clinton got 65 percent. That 65 is up from the 47 percent Al Gore got in 2000. In 16 years, Fairfax County went from a 50-50 split to two-thirds Democratic even though the vote totals nationwide stayed about the same, with the Democratic candidate barely winning the popular vote but losing in the electoral college in both 2000 and 2016.

In Alexandria and Arlington, just across the Potomac River from DC, Clinton got 77 percent of the vote in both places. In 2000, Gore got 60 percent of the vote in Arlington and 68 percent in Alexandria.

In Montgomery County, the upscale county adjoining DC in Maryland, Hillary Clinton got 76 percent of the vote this year. That’s up from the 62 percent Al Gore got in 2000. And it’s way up from the 40 percent that incumbent President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, got in 1980.
Why has the nation’s capital become more Democratic and less welcoming to Republicans? The old conventional wisdom has been that Republicans come to Washington when they win an election but go home when they lose, while Democrats never leave.

Maybe it’s also because it’s ever easier for Democrats to find work. Federal spending has gone from $2.2 trillion in 2000 to $3.9 trillion this year, and Washington is ever more anxious to help the rest of the country decide on everything from what restroom you can use to what your neighborhood school can teach.
If President Trump’s polarizing politics, and the ever more hostile treatment of his administration in Washington, lead to Republicans maintaining control of the Senate and House in November, look for a resurrection of the idea of  moving some of the national government out of Washington.

See “Inside the Radical, Self-Destructive, and Probably Impossible Plan to Move the Government Out of Washington,” by Ben Wofford, published by the Washingtonian in July 2017. If the current war zone atmosphere in Washington continues, it might not be so impossible next year.

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