Liberal Hopes and Congress Realities:
The World of Capitol Hill Politics
THE 86th Congress demonstrates more vividly than usual the often ignored fact that in America we have not one but two kinds of national politics. One is the politics of the big states like New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and California and the big metropolitan centers like Detroit and Dallas. The other is the politics of Washington, the nation’s capital; indeed, of the northwest quadrant of this city, the section bounded by Capitol Hill and the White House and including within it the newspaper and television offices, the fashionable hotels and law offices of Connecticut Avenue, the palatial chanceries of Embassy Row, and the smart town houses of Georgetown and Spring Valley. If the Pentagon across the river in Virginia is considered as an annex, one may say that northwest Washington is the center of a national politics all its own, interlocking with and yet separate from the big-time politics of our major economic regions and political subdivisions. We have all heard of “Potomac Fever” and we know that defeated congressmen and displaced government officials “can’t go home to Pocatello.” But it is doubtful if most of us ordinarily comprehend the role and the importance of the Washington environment in our national politics.
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