The author writes from 19 years in Washington. His says "most of what the government appears to do is make believe carried on for the benefit of those in office, not the rest of us." With most everyone in government "concerned with his own survival," the main work that goes on in Washington is building survival networks.
Not all Washington functions this way. Despite its preoccupation with self-preservation, Washington is not so isolated it doesn't respond to the public temperment.
Peters poses remedies which include reacquainting Congress with legislating, and persuading Washington "t o renounce our own roles in the game of make believe."