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inside the Beltway

“Inside the Beltway” is a term used to describe the political landscape and culture within the Capital Beltway, the Interstate 495 highway that encircles Washington, D.C.

It is often used to refer to the political and media establishments within the city, as well as the people and organizations that are closely connected to the federal government.

It can also reference the military industrial complex.

The term is typically used in a negative context, to suggest that those within the Beltway are out of touch with the rest of the country and more concerned with the politics and culture of Washington than with the needs and concerns of average Americans.

The Wall Street Journal describes:

Populists on both the left and the right sides of the political spectrum share an imagined geography of the U.S. based on the Capital Beltway, the highway that loops around Washington, D.C. Everything “outside the Beltway” is the genuine America, while everything “inside the Beltway” is suspect at best and irredeemably corrupt at worst.

In some ways, “inside the Beltway” is synonymous with the “establishment.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) once described himself on MSNBC as “not an inside the Beltway kind of guy.” He used the term to distinguish the average American from those who work on Capitol Hill.

Examples of “inside the Beltway” in a sentence:

  • Inside the Beltway, politics can become an insular and closed-off world, where the same people and organizations interact with each other on a regular basis.
  • The Inside the Beltway agenda might not necessarily reflect the needs and aspirations of the general public.