House of Caine
Encyclopedias could be written about Washington politics. The city itself has a mayor, elected by D.C.’s citizens. There is also a city council. Several wards divide the District, and each of these areas has a representative. The duties of the mayor involve managing the enormous city bureaucracy and trying to stand between the District and Congress. The mayor has the unenviable task of caring for the capital city, while trying to avoid stepping on the toes of national organizations. While D.C. statehood would make this less of an issue, the movement has few supporters outside the Beltway.
Washington serves as the headquarters for hundreds of organizations, ranging from one-person ofﬁces to massive operations. The tremendous resources available in the city make it very appealing to many private groups, especially those with a need to lobby Congress. Listening to conversations in Washington coffee shops, a visitor might hear a bureaucrat or government contractor rattleoff half-a-dozen abbreviations and numbers. Here are a few examples:
- AARP — American Association for Retired Persons, which has a powerful seniors’ rights lobby. Its members have been known to throw themselves at the cars of congresspeople who have offended the organization.
- ATF — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, part of the Justice Department, involved with the attack on the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.
- AMA — The American Medical Association, which fights health care reform with the same intensity it once fought the Medicare program, which its members now take full advantage of.
- DOD — Department of Defense, whose branches have a far larger budget than do most countries.
- The Fed — The Federal Reserve Board, which sets the country’s economic policies.
- NRA — National Rifle Association, the powerful gun rights lobby in Washington, D.C.
- NRC — Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the group that keeps track of all nuclear regulations.
- OSHA — Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a government organization that monitors workplace safety.
- POTUS — The President of the United States.
- SecDef — The Secretary of Defense, a cabinet member.