Mary Katharine Ham

This past weekend I went to a baby shower (Hold your horses, gentlemen. I swear there?s something in here for you). The mother-to-be looked beautiful, and a bevy of Southern women fluttered around her-- hugging, exclaiming, and laying out a spread of finger food roughly the length and volume of a box car.

     Three generations of three American families talked baby weights, names and namesakes; mothers and grandmothers nodded knowingly as they estimated necessary diaper tonnage; the dad-to-be took in a little target practice until he was called to load up the pile of pink-hued prenatal contributions.

     What didn?t come up was the philosophy of the judicial filibuster, Social Security reform, or the federal budget deficit. Many people who read this column will wonder how that could be, particularly those who work in D.C.?a town in which ?wherever two or three come together, there is Social Security reform with them,? is gospel just as sure as Matthew 18:20.

     But it happened, and it happens all the time. Is it because these folks are all ignorant, unintellectual red-staters? Is it because they are apathetic by nature and can?t muster the will to stay informed of all the important things happening in Washington? No and no. The diagnosis is much simpler than that. It is because they are normal.

     I?m the one who?s weird. People who spend all day long reading, lobbying, and charting the workings of that white-domed building on a hill are not normal. People who read The Hill and Roll Call, three metro newspapers, and 30 blogs a day are not normal. Normal people can?t act like that because they lead normal lives?driving minivans and steering businesses, paying the bills and funding fieldtrips.

     Since I moved to Washington, I?ve heard complaints from both sides of the aisle and all the areas in between??Why,? wonder these D.C.-dwellers, ?aren?t people more involved in the political process, and how do we get them involved??

     I have an idea for solving the problem. How do you get busy folks more involved with the workings of their government? Simple?make the government smaller.

Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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