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Washington Monument Strategy

The “Washington Monument strategy” is named after a tactic used by the National Park Service to threaten closure of the popular Washington Monument when lawmakers proposed serious cuts in spending on parks.

Roll Call calls it “an old legislative ploy where an agency threatens to close popular services first.”

The strategy is used at all levels of government in an attempt to get the public to rally around government services they take pride in or find useful.

A classic example of the Washington Monument Strategy occurred when there were proposed budget cuts to the National Park Service.

In response, the agency highlighted that such cuts would force them to reduce the operating hours or even close popular national monuments and parks.

By publicizing the potential closure of beloved and iconic sites, the National Park Service aimed to galvanize public opposition to the budget cuts, hoping that the resulting public outcry would pressure lawmakers into maintaining or increasing the agency’s funding.

This strategy plays on the emotional connection people have with national landmarks and the public’s desire to maintain access to them.

Closing libraries on certain days of the week or reducing days of trash pick up appears to have the same effect.

Use of “Washington Monument Strategy” in a sentence

  • Critics argue that the Pentagon is employing a Washington Monument strategy by threatening to cut popular programs first, thereby rallying public opposition to any budget reductions.
  • The mayor warned that closing the community center was not a Washington Monument strategy but a necessity due to dire budget constraints, though many constituents remained skeptical.
  • During budget negotiations, the agency director was accused of using a Washington Monument strategy by announcing the potential closure of national parks, thus aiming to generate public outcry and preserve funding.