The Capitol is populated by citizens who, like the ancient Romans as observed by the satirical poet Juvenal circa A.D. 100, have sold their civic responsibility and capacity for self-government in return for panem et circenses (“bread and circuses”). Removed from the deprivation and oppression of the districts, the pampered and hedonistic civilians are generally preoccupied with extravagant fashion, parties, and mass entertainment like the Hunger Games.
New York Times:
Michelle Obama has burned off her date-night meals at Washington’s new generation of acclaimed restaurants by pedaling at SoulCycle. President Obama has shopped for Jonathan Franzen novels with his daughters at local independent bookstores. Obama administration staff members, their barhopping chronicled in the gossip pages, have hit the 14th Street hot spots hard.
Decades ago, Washington was broke and run by a mayor best known for smoking crack with a prostitute on a surveillance tape. Neighborhoods had not fully recovered from the 1968 riots, and an aging Georgetown elite still set the tone. The administrations of two Bushes and a Clinton in between hardly had an effect on the city.
But Mr. Obama’s arrival in 2009 coincided with an urban renaissance. Economic development, federal and private investment, and an influx of highly educated young, gay and diverse professionals gentrified neighborhoods, leading to an explosion in restaurants, bars and cafes. And the Obama family — African-American, youthful, attractive and urbane — were archetypes of a modern city on the upswing.
What the effect on Washington will be when Donald J. Trump moves into the White House is hard to predict. But many Washingtonians fear the worst. Among them is Vincent Gray, the city’s mayor during much of the Obama administration.
“I’m worried about people not wanting to come here because of the image they have of the Trump administration,” Mr. Gray said.
Now a member of the City Council, Mr. Gray said the engagement of Mr. Obama and his family with the city has been “tremendously uplifting.”
“Their presence in the city brought a level of dynamism that just wasn’t there before,” he said.
By contrast, Mr. Trump seems unlikely to drop in at Oyamel, the Mexican restaurant and Obama favorite owned by José Andrés, a star chef and devoted Trump critic. For that matter, it is even unclear whether Mr. Trump, who has used his new Trump International Hotel as an outpost here, will spend weekends in the White House or in New York. And he is unlikely to feel a debt of gratitude to a city where Hillary Clinton won 93 percent of the vote.
“D.C. is going to take a really hard hit, culturally, socially, everything. We were really finding our footing; we weren’t second to New York,” said Jazmine Johnson, a graphic designer who said she now planned to move to New York.
Ms. Johnson, 25, was speaking in the Coffee Bar, a fashionable cafe on M Street where Mr. Trump’s pseudo-anthem, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” played in the background. In the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s election victory on Tuesday, she sought solace in caffeine.
Others around town signed up for free tension-relieving sessions at yoga studios, or meditated on emails from their progressive rabbis reminding them of the Jewish mantra “Od lo avda tikvateinu,” or, “We have not yet lost our hope.” Reports abounded of federal workers and nonprofit employees crying at their desks, scanning the web for out-of-town rentals or accepting the free hugs on offer in Farragut Square.
“The world has definitely shifted on its axis, and we’ve taken a step into the abyss,” said Michael Steel, an establishment Republican by virtue of having worked for former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and departed House Speaker John Boehner, and a frequent critic of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Gray said he worried that a Trump administration could set the city back because the federal government still controls its purse strings and could enact abortion restrictions, cut vital investment and relax gun control laws.
But Democrats now in the government and thinking of leaving it, and young people who had hopes of joining it, have a more immediate concern — a job.
Maybe we could get the British to burn the city down again.
Seriously, Versailles on the Potomac is a symptom of the illness in our body politic. The only industry in Washington DC is government. Everything else is public servants, parasites and predators. All the wealth in Washington comes (directly or indirectly) out of the public trough.
Meanwhile, liberal grandees sneer at those of us who live in the districts.