The cover of Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine proclaims that “D.C. is now a cool city.” It’s an interesting read, if not a decade too late. Working for the federal government became “cool” about 10 years ago, not so much for the Obama presidency (though that had a lot to do with it), but with the contraction of the private-sector job market. Kinda like it was cool to work for the WPA in the ’30s. Then for Uncle Sam during World War II. Then everyone went back to doing real jobs. This time around, I’ve afraid the “govsters” (get it? hipsters who work for the government?) are here to stay. Unfortunately they are of both parties, so flushing out half of them with each election cycle isn’t going to work. They’re a lot more like locusts. Locusts who drink macchiatos and post selfies on Instagram.
The author of the story recognizes some of the problems inherent in such a scenario. To me the criticism doesn’t go far enough. There’s the usual bit about gentrification and how terrible it is (because, ew, who wants their neighborhood improving?), but only a casual reference to the bigger problem of out-of-touch (read: elitist snob) lawmakers who haven’t the slightest idea of life outside the “cool” city. These same elitist snobs live in New York and Los Angeles too. At least there they’re good looking.
There is no shame in working at a “real” job and living in an uncool city. It’s what 99% of Americans do. Some of those folks invent things and create things and really do make our lives better. What scares me are the one percent of the populace who think that being good and bright (if not the best and brightest) means that one should work for the federal government. Honestly, I think our best and brightest should do real jobs, like the aforementioned inventor (or cop or chef or cab driver). Let the uncreative types work in Washington (at least they’ll follow protocol), and don’t worry so much about whether it’s “cool” or not. When tourists from foreign lands come to our shores and laugh at how boring our national capital is, just show ’em an iPhone. Or a WiiU. Or the Golden State Warriors.
Govsters didn’t make that stuff happen.