I recently came across an article that used the word “Kumbaya” in a way I did not understand. I only knew it as the spiritual song that became popular in the 1960s and is now a staple of campfire sing-alongs everywhere.
The article was about the extension of the Highway Trust Fund with borrowed federal dollars rather than addressing the underlying problem of chronic underfunding. The quote was:
“The White House’s surprise endorsement on Monday of the Republican bill guaranteed the big 367–55 vote and probably assures the Senate will pass something close to it. So Kumbaya, as they say on K Street.”
K Street in Washington, D.C. is the home of numerous think tanks, lobbyists, and advocacy groups. “Kum ba ya” is “come by here” in Gullah, the slave-language of the South Carolina–Georgia coast. In the song, it was an appeal to a deity for help, but has since become slang for anything naively or hypocritically optimistic.
No wonder it is a popular expression on K Street.