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Curing the “Inside the Beltway” Syndrome

Observers and pundits often decry the “inside the beltway” mentality that afflicts Washington, D.C. They argue that in the insular world of Congress, policy makers lose perspective on the needs and concerns of the rest of the country. It may well be true, but there are a couple things any organization can do to combat the syndrome. First, take the time to come to Washington to advocate for your views. Having a representative in Washington can be very helpful but taking the time to join them in Washington on occasion can be a force multiplier on any issue. Visits from beyond the beltway have a big impact on Members and staff. Secondly, take advantage of opportunities to meet with Members in their home states or districts. Hearing a concern from a representative in Washington is helpful, but if it is then echoed back home, it truly resonates. Members are back home a lot and making use of recesses to schedule meetings in their local office is a great way to supplement any effort in Washington. Like any institution, Congress can and does become a captive of its internal dynamics. The best cure for “inside the beltway” thinking is to make sure you bring your message in or to reach out to your Member of Congress back home.

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