Next week, we'll be celebrating the 239th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The eloquent cries for freedom and equality voiced in that properly revered document have become what professors Sid Milkis and Marc Landy call the "American Creed." It's a belief that all of us have the right to do whatever we want with our lives so long as we don't interfere with the right of others to do the same.
Listening to the political junkies discuss the 2016 presidential election more than a year ahead of time is enough to depress just about anyone who has a life outside the political bubble. It will get even worse next year with the avalanche of civic pollution known as campaign commercials.
What sometimes seem like epic battles to reshape the world generally fade to irrelevance very quickly. To take just one recent example, 20 years ago the Justice Department was trying to break up Microsoft because the software giant was perceived as too powerful to be challenged by other firms. Today, of course, all the talk is of Google and Apple with Microsoft struggling to find a niche.
Political reporters seem to enjoy the game of politics far more than the substance of issues. But recent Supreme Court rulings on the president's health care law, campaign finance reform and other topics may force a fundamental issue into the 2016 election. Upcoming rulings on same-sex marriage, immigration and another health care case will add fuel to the fire.
American government - at all levels - is losing the legitimacy it needs to function. Or, perhaps, some segments of the government have already lost it.
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Journalist Michael Kinsley once defined a political gaffe as when someone "accidentally reveals something truthful about what is going on in his or her head." In other words, a gaffe is when a political player accidentally tells the truth. This appears to be what happened in a recent Washington Post story.
Entering the world of "official Washington" is a bit like the mythical trip Alice took through the looking glass. Everything is upside-down and nonsensical.
For all the confusion it is causing, President Barack Obama's signature legislative accomplishment did not fundamentally change the health-care industry. Both before and after the law passed, the business of providing medical care in America could best be described as a conspiracy by government, insurance companies and medical care providers to keep prices high.
The health care rollout is an enormous political gift that may lead the Republican Party to win control of the Senate in 2014. But, as President Barack Obama's health-care law collapses, the GOP should avoid the temptation to promote its own top-down solution as an alternative.
Americans are pragmatic, not ideological.
Washington's political class fundamentally misunderstands the role of politics and government in American society. They act as if government is the central force in American life and that its decisions guide the course of the nation. In historical reality, societal trends embrace new technology and the deep currents of public opinion lead the way. Government follows along a decade or two behind.
Many news stories have noted the importance of getting young, healthy people to sign up for insurance on the exchanges created by President Obama's health care law. The Washington Post's Ezra Klein reported that the White House considers this the single most important factor in making the law work.
Many reporters caught up in the bizarre world of official Washington have written extensively on political tactics and implications of the so-called government shutdown and disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov. Typical was a New York Times headline that blared ''Republicans, Sensing Weakness in Health Law Rollout, Switch Tactics.''
Shortly after the end of World War II, a pair of allergists gave some medication to a patient suffering from hives. Surprisingly, the patient reported her lifelong battle with carsickness had disappeared. After follow-up testing, Dramamine quickly became standard issue for fighting motion sickness.
Not long ago, the conventional wisdom in official Washington held that the so-called sequester spending cuts would be a disaster for the Republican Party. People were expected to rise up in vehement protest once the "cuts" went into effect.
The debate in Washington this week was allegedly about the president's health care law, but it quickly became all about Sen. Ted Cruz. The Texas Republican objected to the law by speaking on the Senate floor for 21 straight hours. The effort made him a hero to some, a fool to others, and it ultimately had no legislative impact.
It's become common over the past year or two to note how well Wall Street is doing while Main Street is still struggling.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an enabler as "one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior." Enablers do so "by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior."
Each of Newton's two games this season have been decided by late scores.
Official Washington is always a decade or two behind the American people. That was true in 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream for a better America. It's also true today.