WASHINGTON – If you were walking to the White House from the northwest side of the city on Saturday at noon, you might have passed the crowd of pretty people that are always at the sidewalk cafes like Le Diplomate — the center city’s swanky restaurant.
You would have noticed glasses of champagne on the tables, which are usually on the tables at brunch at Le Dip, but you would have noticed glasses of champagne at every table.
Cars on the street passed blaring their horns. The city’s busses too blasted their horns, which were deeper than the others in the chaos orchestra. Cars crowded with young men and women passed with some of the passengers poking through the sunroof, holding Biden-Harris signs. A man on a bicycle passed hollering Donald Trump’s going to jail. The stream of masked people on the streets all move toward the White House.
If you were walking south to the White House, you would have passed McPherson Square where a screen was erected playing CNN. You might have stopped long enough to hear the network’s White House reporter telling the cheering crowd disregarding him that Donald Trump is golfing in Virginia today.
On Tuesday night, the group gathered before the same screen was tense. And as Tuesday wandered into Wednesday that group dissipated. The faces of the country were colored by television screens and they did nothing more ambitious than read about where MSNBC’s on-camera statistics guru got his outfit.
Saturday was ages away from Tuesday though. Outside the White House today at just past noon, the streets were blocked and the car horns faded away and the crowd sang na, na, na, na, goodbye. You could see the White House with the National Monument flanking it, both on the other side of a fence that is supposed to be impossible for protesters to scale. But the crowd was not interested in the fence.
In the center of the crowd, somebody hoisted an American flag and cheers broke out. A couple passed and the man wore a tuxedo and the woman a wedding dress; they had just been married and they stopped to have their photo taken. The couple in their wedding garb stopped to have their photo taken on the same street that Donald Trump had his photo taken months ago; the photo that he gassed a crowd to have taken. And this time the crowd was back and you saw bottles of champagne among them.
Now, on these streets the mayor recently dubbed Black Lives Matter Plaza, all of DC – the locals, not the Washington champagne crowd – are watching to see if President-elect Joe Biden and the first Black and female vice president-elect in the nation’s history, Kamala Harris, can turn the horns, angst, and formerly pepper-sprayed eyes of this crowd into true believers.
Many are hoping criminal justice, prison, and drug reform are at the top of their agenda. And so are their siblings, parents, cousins, loved ones, and friends who couldn’t come out to witness history today. The bars they’re behind crowd out all the bars, crowds, and bubbles on display.