When Donald Trump said he would make America great again, he wasn't talking about Nebraska—which clearly rocks. He didn't mean Michigan or Mississippi. Trump was never going to save our states by fixing state tax codes, lobbying laws, or regulatory regimens. Candidate Trump, and his supporters, clearly believed that making America great again meant making Washington great again. Trump never went so far as to claim he could make Americans actually love Washington. But after fewer than 100 days, it looks like he has. By threatening to take it away.
He's slashing Washington budgets. Appointing agency heads to kill Washington agencies. He's living the dream of every American who ever laughed at Ronald Reagan's joke about the scariest words in the English language: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.
But Americans exhibit strange dichotomies when it comes to Washington. We hate Washington, which is run by the Heartland avatars of our choice. We revere the founding fathers as patriots and geniuses, but deride the brilliant, enduring, self-replicating machine they invented.
Donald Trump campaigned on the notion that fixing Washington would be simple because the problems were simple; caused by the feckless idiots and self-dealing crooks known as politicians.
But it turns out the problems aren't simple. Nor are the political solutions. Because what we really hate about Washington, the source of its capacity for both good and evil, is the people we ourselves choose to run it. Not our people, of course. The problem is "special interests." Which is just shorthand for our ideological opponents: Big oil, big pharma, and Wall Street on one side; unions, environmentalists, and people of color on another. The reason we hate Washington is that it allows any interests to prevail. If we let them.