Monday, May 22, 2006

Distinguishing the three Washingtons

When discussing Washington, D.C., it's important to make clear which Washington you're talking about. There are actually three Washingtons:
  • The Nation's Capital: The official Washington of presidential pronouncements, siren-blaring motorcades, embassy parties, and "The West Wing." This Washington takes on the political coloration of the party in power, so it is currently a very bright red.
  • The Washington Metropolitan Area: A sprawling metropolis of 4.2 million people that incorporates portions of Maryland and Virginia as well as the District of Columbia. Politically, this area falls into the blue category, since Northern Virginia is the most moderate-to-liberal part of that state and suburban Maryland (together with Baltimore) is the core of progressive politics in Maryland. It should be viewed as a consortium of counties and cities, rather than as a single jurisdiction.
  • Washington City or the District: The center city at the heart of that metropolitan area, a separate jurisdiction of 500,000 plus persons that is more than a city but less than a state. The District is the bluest of blue jurisdictions -- it voted 90 percent for John Kerry in 2004 and 85 percent for Al Gore in 2000.
In my Washington posts on In This Moment, I'll endeavor to make clear which Washington I'm talking about.

No comments: