The coldest winter

One of the happiest times in Washington is Inauguration Day. People in a great mood fill the Metro trains, the National Mall draws a truly mass audience, the new-or-re-elected president gives an inspiring address, and then there’s a big parade and parties. You can’t help but feel the optimism, and it’s one of the occasions that remind me I live in a world capital.

But Washington is an armed camp now. There are National Guardsmen sleeping on the floors in the Capitol. High-security fencing and barbed wire surround the People’s House. Soon, there will be only one open bridge into town from Virginia.

It would be easy and satisfying to say that Donald Trump and COVID-19 did this to us. But I’m afraid this is closer to the truth: We did this to us. We can undo it, too, but that is going to take a lot of work. Trump exposed and empowered a creeping evil. The hard part — bringing us back to a more perfect union, starting with the ‘union’ — is ahead.


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