Walking down North Capitol Street, I couldn’t help but notice that capitalism was alive and well in the waning hours of Obama’s America. Everywhere, the denizens of Washington, DC tried to sell me Trump paraphernalia: Trump shirts, Trump hats, Trump pins, and even Trump money.
“Trump money? Seriously?”
“Oh, yes,” the saleslady said. She leaned into the stack and lifted a bill so I could examine the obverse side. A smirking Donald Trump adorned the center of the glittering fake bill. I could not imagine a more appropriate item.
I could have purchased one, but I pressed on. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the irony of black entrepreneurs peddling pro-Trump kitsch. Of course, they may have been part of the 8% African-American vote that split for Donald Trump, not that it makes any difference. Everyone knows the color that drives America isn’t white, black, or brown – it’s green. Soon to be glittering with a smirking Donald Trump in the center.
The thing is, I was anxious to get to the inauguration. I had just driven in early that morning. This despite every website screaming AVOID DRIVING INTO DC ON OR AROUND JANUARY 20! MULTIPLE ROAD CLOSURES! EXPECT DELAYS! As an inveterate contrarian, I viewed this as more of a dare than a warning.
And I’m a badass. Okay, not really. I used Parking Panda. And, by the way, I hit absolutely no traffic.
Rounding Louisiana Ave, I turned west on D Street and passed one armored vehicle after another. By every vehicle congregated bands of large men and women wearing bulletproof vests and strapped with an NRA convention full of weaponry. The government was not screwing around on its big day, this much was sure.
The crowds converged once I approached the numbered cross streets and with them came the protestors. Unsurprisingly, the protestors came in two flavors, liberal and conservative. While the liberals had a dizzying variety of issues (more on this in a later post), the conservatives had only one: abortion. Each protest was accompanied by at least one billboard-sized photograph of a blood-streaked aborted fetus resting on a quarter. Always a quarter, mind you. Not a penny, not a dime, not even a half dollar. I saw at least six of these photos during my travels that day. Obviously the quarter was meant to help you judge size (really really small) but the significance of that particular coin eluded me. It must have been one strange meeting when they gathered to decide on the quarter.
Nearby stood a man with a megaphone, letting us know that God was pissed. Not miffed, not irked, but pissed. Really pissed. We’re talking fire-and-brimstone pissed. No one seemed particularly troubled by this. Even the red-hatted Trump supporters payed no heed.
We had places to go, you see. The flow of the crowd brought us to the Red Gate, a wide road layered with Jersey walls to create narrow channels allowing only the passage of pedestrians in single file. Bottles containing a rainbow of flavored sugar water perched precariously atop each wall, creating a Jenga-like game for others wishing to abandon contraband before entering the checkpoint.
Speaking of checkpoints, anyone who doesn’t think Palestinians have a sense of humor might enjoy this sign.
I tugged my arms in close and navigated through the gauntlet, somehow managing not to knock a single bottle off the barriers (bonus points!) My self-adulation was to be short lived, however.
“Get your tickets ready!” the police called out.
Crap. This was the line for the aristocracy, or at least those who knew someone who knew someone who maybe knew someone politically connected and managed to score tickets to the special area where you got an actual chair and didn’t need a zoom lens. I turned around to rejoin the rabble, but just as I reached the end of the corridor, DisruptJ20 protestors converged before me and linked arms across the entire street, blocking my escape.
Next post: Weak! Scenes from the Trump Inauguration
About me: I am a Maryland-based physician that writes under the pen name David Z Hirsch. Check out my YouTube channel for videos on common medical conditions
and my best-selling novel, Didn’t Get Frazzled, an entertaining and provocative story about life and love in medical school.