Living in the Capitol after many years out in the districts, there is so much to notice. For example, my morning run today took me past Sidwell Friends, school of presidential children, with a secret service van out front and others scattered on neighboring streets. It was drop-off time, and Wisconsin Avenue (how ironic!) was clogged with a glut of BMWs, Audis, and Lexuses – mostly SUVs – getting in and out of the underground driveway into the school’s entrance. Very airport-like!
I’m fairly sure most of them are horrified by President Trump. They probably do not want him to pull out of the Paris Treaty, allow the Dakota Pipeline, and open public lands for oil and gas drilling. But darn it, they won’t stop driving their ridiculously expensive gas-guzzling status symbols. Or stop taking routine vacations to faraway places. Or remove the absurd height restrictions on buildings in DC, so that we can build a lot more housing, get denser for transit, and relieve the brutal housing cost crisis. (By the way, if you watch the local politics in and around 20008, you know that ANY building of almost ANY density is stridently opposed by “neighbors,” even within the height restrictions!)
That’s just on the environment. Probably most voted for DC statehood, too, though their commitment to DC public goods is pretty low: their kids don’t go to the public schools or take the bus to school. I could go on. The point is not to criticize the substance of many of these views. The point is to identify the unacknowledged but blatant contradictions in their political views and their lifestyle. Sure, we all have these. Trumplandia has plenty (Wal-mart and trade deals, anyone?). But you, my Sidwell Friends, believe you are entitled to rule the world, and especially to point out the superiority of your enlightened cultural views as superior to and even legally imposable on Trumplandia. And the ticketing to such entitlement turns out to be Sidwell Friends and whatever elite school comes after that. Elite education is something I support and have benefitted from. It’s not the education. It’s the bubble, and the corrosive belief that it is not a bubble, which is why you – and not they – are entitled to set the rules.
Trumplandia simply struck back. It’s a simple message: stop, you’re not entitled to that. We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more. This isn’t a justification of the candidate, but it should be acknowledged that even the candidate’s failings served to manifest that same message. The more elites opposed him, the more it appeared that he was the real thing, that he really was not “one of them” but rather “one of us.” A message is not a governing strategy (though let’s be fair, Obama circa 2008 was also more message than governing strategy). A candidate’s failings are not anywhere near the same thing as a president’s failings. And being what amounts to a CEO of a family business is not at all analogous to being the president within a complex system of government.
But that doesn’t change the message. And, my Sidwell Friends, now that Trumplandia is in charge, maybe consider something more radical: live differently. Protect the environment, fight global warming, aid the suffering, shelter the immigrant. Do it yourself. Yes, I get collective action problems. It takes a village. But it’s plenty easy for the village to take their own initiative and live differently. Especially if you are driving your kids to a super-elite private school in a Porsche SUV.