Stephen Moret’s sales pitch to the Amazon in the HQ2 deal offered an analysis that was both acute and chilling — acute if you’re an economic developer seeking to promote Northern Virginia as a place for tech companies to do business, chilling if you are an American worried about the growing overlordship of the technocratic elite.
According to Luke Mullins’ Washingtonian article, “The Real Story of How Virginia Won Amazon’s HQ2,” Virginia’s proposal to Amazon highlighted Northern Virginia’s proximity to the Pentagon and other federal agencies. Writes Mullins:
By plopping HQ2 into Crystal City — right next door to the Pentagon — its employees could become part of the Washington community, attending backyard barbecues and school dance recitals with the very regulatory staffers and procurement officials whose decisions will determine the company’s future — as the very journalists and political strategists who might paint the firm as an Evil Empire.
“The high concentration of tech companies, federal agencies, and supporting organizations offer Amazon the opportunity to develop valuable future relationships,” [Moret and his team] wrote. “Northern Virginia provides an unmatched place for Amazon to locate as it attempts to influence federal policies, particularly as it delves into complex areas of federal regulatory authority (e.g. unmanned drones).” Moret’s team even drew up and provided a helpful map charting Crystal City’s proximity to some of the most powerful agencies in Washington — the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, the FCC.
Mullins also quotes Amazon executive Holly Sullivan as saying that political considerations played no part in the company’s decision to locate in Arlington. I have no reason to doubt her word. However, it should surprise no one if the dynamics Moret describes do come to pass — 25,000 Amazon employees embedding themselves into the Washington community, befriending and even marrying members of the political class. Amazon’s interests will color the interests of the power structure, and the power structure’s interests will color Amazon’s.
The proximity to power across the Potomac River is precisely why Arlington and Alexandria have become the trade-association capital of the United States. Proximity to the Pentagon is why Northern Virginia is the center of the defense-tech sector. That’s an unalloyed good thing if your sole preoccupation is growing jobs and investment in Northern Virginia.
But Virginia’s sales pitch provides a profound and terrifying insight into the sociology of power in Washington, D.C. The power structure — e.g. the Deep State — runs far deeper than the official channels of political activity — campaign contributions, lobbying, and the influencing of public opinion — would indicate. It is a permanent social/economic/political fixture that no four- or eight-year president can dislodge. It is comprised of federal bureaucrats, political appointees, lobbyists, trade association officials, foundations, advocacy groups, and media who cycle between the governmental, nonprofit and private sectors. These people attend one another’s cocktail parties. They send their children to the same elite schools. They go to the same country clubs, attend the same churches (if they attend church) and literally inter-marry with one another. Although they may hew to different factions within the Deep State, residents of the Washington region comprise a distinct class — an elite governing class. They listen to the same news sources, share the same worldview, for the most part vote the same way, and mobilize the structure’s antibodies to repel populist interlopers who would disrupt the status quo.There are currently no comments highlighted.