« roadtrip.ejfox.com

Washington, DC

Day 1 – January 20, 2017

Inauguration & Protests in DC

Check out my photos from the inauguration on my photo blog.

Inauguration As Starting Point

When I planned this trip before the election, I knew I wanted to start on inauguration day. It seemed fitting to start my journey across the US in our nation’s capital, our collective heart, the center of so much of our energy. I knew there would be protests there no matter who won, as there always are. I wanted to talk to people on both sides, angry and ecstatic.

Supporters and Protesters

The people who live in Washington, DC voted resoundingly for Clinton. She got 92.8% of the vote there. Trump got 4.1% - so it wasn’t a surprise to see a lot of protesters at the inauguration.

I was surprised to see the discussion that emerged organically as Trump supporters coming through the checkpoint for the parade route passed the plaza the protest was in.

As I wrote in my photo blog:

I immediately noticed these two men who had wandered in the middle and were having loud discussions with crowds of protesters. I watched for a few minutes and my worry turned to joy. Their disagreement was loud and passionate- but rarely disrespectful. These strangers were able to have a more coherent and respectful discussion face-to-face.

“That’s what America’s about!” I thought.

It makes me optimistic for my trip. I want to travel the country and have these sorts of discussions. When talking to friends and family about my trip some had expressed worry or dismay that I would be arguing with strangers and potentially be in danger. I think that as long as you’re respectful, dialogue, however vehement, is part of being American.

From Obama to Trump

The discussion was also interesting because I saw some questions and points I had come up organically from the Trump supporters.

“Are you saying that the people who voted for Obama and then voted for Trump weren’t racist, and then suddenly turned racist?”

This is a question I’ve been asking myself since November. The idea of blue collar workers swinging away from Obama to Trump fascinates me. I created a map visualizing the counties that had the most swing between 2012 and 2016 for NBC News out of that fascination. As they talk about in the article, it was really the rust belt that swung the most. These are places where industry is the main source of jobs, and those jobs got rarer and rarer under Obama.

If you look at this map from Bloomberg, a lot of the places that stayed blue were places where jobs increased. Trump’s belt of support overlaps considerably with where Americans lost their jobs.

Part of the reason I want to go on this trip is to talk to these people and try and understand their thinking. A lot of the positions that Trump takes that women and minorities are threatened by don’t affect them. When he tweets about companies moving their jobs to the US he is talking to them. When people of color, muslims, and immigrants cry out saying Trump is dangerous to them- is ignoring that cry racist? Or is it an act of desperation?

Additional Reading