Sign up for our free newsletter
In 2010, “One City” was a campaign slogan. One measly election later, it’s a municipal logo. The words adorn welcome-to-Washington signage at the District line. They anchor the vaguely Orwellian slogan (“one city, one government, one voice”) on the city’s website. The District’s summer jobs program is now “Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s One City Summer Youth Employment Program,” the city film office now pitches the “one city location of the month,” and libraries now advertise the “One Book. One City. One Great Read” campaign. There’s no law against turning a partisan catchphrase into a civic refrain, even if seems a bit creepy that my preschooler was outfitted in a “One City” T-shirt at rec center summer camp. Supporters would argue that there’s nothing wrong with the term: After all, who could disagree with the idea that the city should be a single, equal unit? Maybe that’s also the problem. It’s not that Gray has plastered his old campaign phrase all over town. It’s that he’s branded Washington with such a saccharine moniker.