There is arguably no American city more socially vulnerable than Washington, D.C. Whatever happens federally affects the nation’s capital like a child influenced by the actions of their parents.
January 20 and 21 were no exception, when the inauguration of President Donald Trump brought America’s most hopeful and most fearful together. The tension the new administration brought nationally was palpable Friday. The hopefulness and resistance of his opposition dominated Saturday.
In one day, our nation’s political brand went from hope and change to American carnage. From hope for equality to hope for jobs. From affordable health care insurance to building a wall. This was less of a transition of power of politicians than it was of one jaded population to the next.
This is a shift in priorities and representation, not of just parties. And for many, these priorities — refugee bans, decentralization of education — are as scary as what the new administration does not want to work on: police brutality, background checks on guns, healthcare availability.
That’s what caused protestors to get violent following Trump’s speech and during his parade. People afraid of what’s to come vandalized stores and police vehicles and lit cars on fire. About 200 people were reportedly arrested Friday. Plenty more were teargassed just by being near riots — myself and other reporters included.
The newly represented came to Washington in full force. There were people who supported him right away, and people who didn’t even think about voting for him in the primary.
There were people who have waited these last eight years — at minimum anyway, some people have been waiting their whole lives — for someone this confident, who wants to stop immigrants from taking their jobs.
There were people waiting a half mile out from the Capitol building earlier than 5 a.m. just to be in the same area as the president of their dreams while he was sworn in. Some probably would have never been so motivated to even make a trip to Washington, D.C. if it were not for him.
“I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never let you down,” President Trump promised.
In the same city were the people already let down — the outraged left, those afraid of oppression, and anyone who was not enthused by him.
There were those unamused by the violence and rhetoric of everyone that day, afraid rioters would damage the cause of anyone fighting for any kind of social justice and liberal cause. Everyone was together, but no one was unified.
The overcast, lightly rainy weather was the most fitting backdrop to the capital’s mood.
These rioters are not the same people who marched Saturday. Over night, Make America Great Again caps were traded out for pussy hats. The emotionally estranged of Friday turned into the “yes we can” group of the last presidency. And those who came as part of the self-proclaimed silent majority were, for the day, the mute minority.
Nearly one million people came to D.C. to attend the Women’s March on Washington. Mothers and daughters, sisters, husbands, lovers, transgender people and those who also might not have felt compelled to D.C. otherwise filled some of the city’s major roads near the National Mall.
And though it was advertised as a women’s march, the crowd re-branded it as an everyone march: for any LGBT people, of any race, of indigenous people and their protections, for education and for the environment. “All issues are women’s issues” was one of the day’s proclamations.
“It was so inspirational and hopeful to see groups that would typically focus on their own agenda come together for others,” said IU law student Francesca Hoffman, who attended the Women’s March on Washington.
No arrests were made. No damage was done to businesses or cars.
Celebrity artists and intellectuals like Dr. Angela Davis even came out of the woodwork of history to share sentiments and strategies for resistance the next four years. While the most profound celebrity of Trump’s day, allegedly, was Toby Keith.
Metro stations were shut down Friday for logistics purposes. Stations were shut down Saturday because of the unexpected influx of people using the metro to get to the march. Commemorative inaugural gear was swapped out for “not my president” signs. In one day, hope and change of President Obama came back to drown out the havoc.
This is not to say the left is more peaceful, or that the Trump administration has it wrong, or that one day was more influential than the other. Both days are rightfully historic. But archetypes of each side — if we want to simplify America to two sides — got one big (or “huge”) day each, all in one place, and it was undeniable one day was significantly calmer.
And as the tone transitioned drastically on one weekend in one city, America as a whole is transitioning into a realization that the opposing side is alive, well and ready to work for itself.
This is a transition into populism, rise of the friction and the shift from unstated to a codified social cold war. It is destined to be uglier before unification of any measure can be achieved, but the first step is for America to mature into adulthood and respect others’ concerns.
The differences in priority issues, demographics and psychographics of these sides are stark and have been for a long time. Eventually, America will have to see which will come out on top. For now, we are witnessing the incline to the peak of our differences.
“I’m just hoping for a respectful next four years,” IU sophomore and Trump supporter Hannah Kraus, said at the Inauguration.
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