So AOC (Alexandria Ocasio Cortez) said/mentioned something today that got me thinking. She explained the congressional schedule, why congresspersons go home to their districts on Thursdays. Essentially, congresspersons work in D.C four days a week, then go home to their districts for three days. They repeat that process three times, then they get a one week congressional recess. Anyways, it made me think, as I do ever so much, why in the hell is Washington D.C the capitol of the country?
Let’s say a congressperson gets off work in D.C at 5pm on Thursday and is at the airport by 6pm to catch an 8pm flight (get there two hours early as advised). A NY rep like AOC is in their district by 9pm, gets a full nights rest and because it’s a short hop from NYC to D.C, she doesn’t have to leave NYC until late Sunday to get back to D.C. She gets to spend a full three days in her district, and doesn’t suffer travel fatigue. Even a rep from Miami, where it’s a two hour flight, gets home on Thursday night and doesn’t have to leave until Sunday evening, and doesn’t travel too much.
Now, a congressperson from California, Oregon and Washington, say they also catch an 8pm Thursday flight home. Any flight from D.C to those states is at least five hours. From D.C to Seattle it’s probably about 5 ½ hours. They also have to cross three time zones, so while on the way home they still get in on Thursday night, because of the long flight they can get jet lag and be a little hampered the first day home. On Sunday though going back to D.C, they lose three hours of time, so basically a congressperson from Seattle spends nine hours traveling on Sunday. In other words, while an east coast congressperson can spend all of Sunday in their district, a west coast congressperson has to leave early Sunday. Not to mention that, again, the west coast congressperson may need a day to recover from jet lag after getting back to D.C.
On top of the time spent traveling, is the cost of traveling. Obviously, longer flights cost more than shorter flights. This means that congresspersons on the west coast have to spend far more on traveling to/from their districts.
When the country was first founded, it made sense to have the capitol where it is, because the country was only on the east coast. Now that the country stretches from coast to coast, I don’t think it makes any sense to maintain the capitol on one coast, forcing some congresspersons to spend far more time and money traveling while not getting to spend as much time with their constituents as other congresspersons because of the travel demands. I think, much like our systems of governance, this country needs to enter the 21st century.
I think a decent location for a new capitol for the current existing 50 state country is St. Louis Missouri. It’s not quite the middle of the country but it’s in the central time zone. No location in the lower 48 is more than a four hour flight away. St. Louis is less than a two hour flight away from many large population centers, such as Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Memphis, Nashville, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Atlanta, Charlotte and more. It shaves more than an hour of flight time each direction to the west coast states, while also shaving off one time zone difference. The city makes sense in terms of USian history, as it’s where Lewis & Clark began their expedition, which is why the U.S stretches from coast to coast anyways. If it weren’t for St. Louis, the U.S wouldn’t be what it is today. One could say that, just in terms of history and not modern logistics, that D.C made perfect sense for the original 13 states, for the original U.S, and that St. Louis makes sense for the post Lewis & Clark and modern day U.S.
We’re in the 21st century, yet for the most part, the U.S finds itself stuck in the 18th century. Our capitol is in a place that doesn’t make sense, our laws and courts and governing systems were founded by 18th century slaveholders. I’m not a fan of nation-states, but I mean, let’s at least become a 21st century country. Move the capitol to St. Louis, abolish the Senate, uncap the House of Reps and change it to a parliamentary system with proportional representation, abolish the Supreme Court, adopt the universal basic human rights as outlined by the UN and yea.