WASHINGTON, D.C. — The center of the nation’s capital was unusually quiet on Thursday afternoon. Office buildings stood virtually empty. Streets were calm and traffic sedate, even around a maze of security roadblocks.
Underground, the Metro hummed — then ground to a halt for minutes on end. On the surface, bicycle cabs — many from out of town — took over as the most reliable means of navigating the streets around the Mall.
And the Deplorables marched in — in their tens of thousands.
There was a democratic spirit in the air, something like the mood of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last summer — the conference that the big politicos skipped, along with the donors and the lobbyists, leaving the “little people” that are the heart and soul of the Republican Party to enjoy the city for themselves. Hollywood has snubbed this inauguration, as have several dozen House Democrats — and the Deplorables do not care. More room for them to savor this unique victory.
President-elect Donald Trump often told his supporters they would take their country back on Election Day. On the eve of his inauguration, it seemed they had already begun to take their city back. The White House, shining in the afternoon light on a balmy January day, seemed at peace, with its flag hanging serenely, even though a blizzard of activity was blowing inside. People posed in front of it for photographs with “TRUMP” banners. To the Deplorables, it seemed less forbidding, now.
The sun set below a bank of distant clouds, a hint of rain to come. And just like that, the era of Barack Obama — a time of “fundamental transformation,” of constant conflict, of victories quickly dissipated — seemed suddenly over.