i get a lot of questions about what it’s like to live in DC! I keep meaning to make a fun post about it, and this is not that. But I do wish I could communicate to you guys what it is like to live here in the days leading to the inauguration of Donald Trump.
I have never felt this place thrumming so palpably with shared, invisible disgust and tension. Like, as a person who lived here on 9/11 and during the days of anthrax threats and fighter jets constantly flying overhead and the D.C. sniper, I am truly not exaggerating when I say that the day after election day 2016 was the grimmest I’ve ever felt or seen this place. There were people crying in the streets in 2001, but there was a kind of communion too, a sense of public mourning and catharsis. In November, people cried silently. I have never seen a city that quiet. The streets were like a weird dream. People aren’t sitting on curbs weeping anymore, but right now this city is almost vibrating.
The first GWB inauguration was fraught. (The second certainly was too, but I wasn’t here.) D.C. residents are super democratic; there were a lot of protests and a lot of anger and sorrow. But Donald Trump is on a whole other level. Not only does he stand against everything that well-meaning people here stand for – mostly the West Wing illusion of creating, from whatever ideological standpoint, A Smarter, More Decent America – but he has been using this city as a metaphorical punching bag for months. If not years.
Imagine if some dude ran for the mayor of your town by talking about how much your town fucking sucks and is ruining America (while also happily using your town to enrich himself). And then OTHER PEOPLE got to vote for your mayor. AND HE WON!!!! Whether or not you like your town, whether or not you think it’s the greatest place on earth, whether or not you believe it has flaws that should be addressed – you would still probably be like “What the fuck?” And now he is coming to your town in a week, with all the fucking people who hate or at best have no respect for you, and he and they are going to team up with your worst councilmembers (who you ALSO did not vote for) and use your town’s resources to do shitty, stupid, malicious things. You also have to imagine, in this metaphor, that your town has access to nuclear weapons.
In D.C., in my experience, the incumbent president has more influence on the culture and mood of the city than the mayor does. (We’re talking post-Marion Barry here.) For one thing, we are essentially subject to the will of the federal government; not only can we barely make our own laws, since all legislation here must be approved by Congress, but much of our civic funding comes from federal spending bills. For an example, see this article about that time the House voted to strike down a DC law banning discrimination against employees for their reproductive decisions. Would this law have affected Ted Fucking Cruz or his constituents? Of course the fuck not!!! Did he lead the movement to block it because he was so conceeeeeerned about the religious freedommmmmm of the employers of Washingtooooooooon?? Haha, take a guess! (No.) To people like Ted Cruz we are not a city full of people, 50% black, 10% immigrant, a place that needs resources and ingenuity to solve a widening income gap tied closely to race. Instead, we get to be a useful metaphor, a flag to wave at everybody else, and we don’t get a fucking vote in the Senate about it, and we are no longer going to have a President with veto power and our best interests in mind.
In fact, I feel like a huge hypocrite even using the word “we!” I pay taxes in D.C., but I still vote in Maryland, because if you can – if you want any kind of voice – you have to. As many do, I try to use that privilege to listen to and advocate for D.C. itself. But when I use the word “we,” I am speaking in that sense as an outsider.
Anyway. I am trying to talk about how it feels. Friends who have visited from New York and Los Angeles and New Haven – engaged, hooked-in, progressive activist communities – have noticed that it’s different here. On the bus the other day I made eye contact with a stranger over an overheard comment, and he said quietly “did you watch the press conference?” and I said, “yeah,” and then we just stared at each other with flaming, furious, scared eyes.
I was talking to @valencing about the way this place feels and she said “what you’re describing is the mood of a city that’s just been occupied and the enemy army is moving in.” Obviously I wouldn’t know. But it feels similarly visceral. http://ift.tt/eA8V8J
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2ipGAlx