The self-interested, often deceitful conduct of power brokers in D.C. results in its nickname as “the swamp,” which also references the historical climate of the region prior to its founding as it was literally founded on swampy land. In addition, its nickname as the “deep state” reflects how there is an entrenched liberal bureaucracy in D.C. that serves itself rather than the people of the United States who pay the bills. The current mayor of the District of Columbia is leftist Muriel Bowser.
Illicit affairs that create hidden conflicts-of-interest are common in D.C. Most people who work in policy-making positions in D.C. are married to (or have a relationship with) someone who holds a different policy-making position. These relationships have a binding effect that prevents policy-makers from acting independently based on logic, values, or the interests of the American people, and their policy decisions or recommendations are often self-serving.
President Trump’s firing of disgraced FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017, prompted an undeservedly sanctimonious reaction by liberals in D.C., illustrating how self-centered and unproductive the swamp has become.
Design and History
At the time that the site was first selected, two small port towns already had been built within its boundaries: Alexandria on the west side of the Potomac River and Georgetown on the east side. Because Congress was concerns with potential conflicts of interest created by much of the land on the west side of the Potomac being owned by George Washington’s family, Congress prohibited the construction of federal buildings on that side.
The city is located along the Potomac River. The Anacostia River branches off this, and runs through parts of the Southeast and Northeast Quadrants. This river has had problems with pollution. Because no development related to the federal city was placed on the west side of the Potomac, and the west side had attracted shanty towns with gambling and prostitution, Congress returned the land west of the Potomac River to Virginia in 1848.
Pierre L’Enfant, appointed in 1791 by George Washington, designed much of the city, including the city’s interesting quadrant formation. The city is divided into four quadrants, which meet at a central point at the United States Capitol. The Northwest quadrant is by far the largest, and locations in this quadrant include the White House, Ford’s Theater (where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865), the National Zoo, and a number of the Smithsonian Museums. L’Enfant was fired over a dispute involving Thomas Jefferson before the city’s design was completed. In 1814, the British army attacked the city as a part of the War of 1812 and burned a number of public buildings in the city, including the White House. First Lady Dolly Madison famously saved a portrait of George Washington from the White House before the building was burned.
The completely appropriate public outcry, primarily among conservatives and other disaffected Americans, during the 2016 presidential election campaign to “drain the swamp” has its roots in Washington DC’s early history. For several years after its founding, the city on the Potomac River was known for its terribly swampy conditions, with unpaved roads simply impassible by wagon or carriage for months out of the year thanks to the pervasive muck and mire. Many politicians during the early republic refused to travel to the capital city, preferring instead to conduct government business via courier or carrier pigeons, which became known informally as “muddy budgies.” President Thomas Jefferson was a great fan of the “avian art,” and his several failed attempts to train muddy budgies himself are a great source of levity in the Jefferson Papers.
Washington DC’s Secret Symbolism
Symbols and numerology are embedded throughout the architecture of Washington, DC. Scott Onstott has an outstanding video below detailing his ongoing research on much of the symbolism in DC. Watch:
As of July 1, 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the District’s population was 681,170, an 13.2% increase since the 2010 United States Census. The increase continues a growth trend since 2000, following a half-century of population decline. The city was the 24th most populous place in the United States. According to data from 2010, commuters from the suburbs increase the District’s daytime population to over one million people. According to 2015 Census Bureau data, the population of Washington, D.C. was 48.3% Black or African American, 44.1% White (36.1% non-Hispanic White), 4.2% Asian, 0.6% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Individuals from two or more races made up 2.7% of the population. Hispanics of any race made up 10.6% of the District’s population. African American residents composed about 30% of the District’s total population between 1800 and 1940. The black population reached a peak of 70% by 1970, but has since steadily declined due to many African Americans moving to the surrounding suburbs. Partly as a result of gentrification, there was a 31.4% increase in the non-Hispanic white population and an 11.5% decrease in the black population between 2000 and 2010. Housing patterns within D.C. are highly segregated, with most whites living downtown or west of Rock Creek Park. In the suburbs, Arlington, Virginia is predominantly white except for four neighborhoods that surround historically-black schools. Montgomery County, Maryland is predominantly white, and Prince Georges County, Maryland is predominantly African-American.