Ok, first week and a half. First full week. First work week. Whatever.
I am now an employee of the Federal Government in the United States Digital Service, reporting up to the Executive Office of the President, detailed to the General Service Administration to work on Login.gov.
Coming from Google, being a Government employee is a trip, let me tell you, and I’m taking notes for a later post. Right now though, I wanna talk about the fact that I live in a city currently ruled by Republicans and I technically work for Trump.
DC is definitely an industry town, where everything revolves around the Federal Government in much the same way that Silicon Valley revolves around tech or Hollywood revolves around entertainment. That said though, the city itself is incredibly liberal – DC went 92.8% for Hillary. (in contrast, San Francisco only went 85.04%)
In most of the neighborhoods I’ve explored the trappings of progressives are all around, from ‘you are welcome here’ window signs to ‘Obama 2012’ bumper stickers and rainbow flags galore. It actually feels a lot more active/outgoing/concentrated than SF. Perhaps this city is naturally more activism-oriented, or maybe they know the message is going to be seen by people who disagree with it.
Whatever the reason, it’s pretty great:
(That last is from a truly excellent store called ‘The Outrage‘ that you should all check out next time you need something to wear to a march. Or just in general)
So the liberals here are plentiful and vocal, but we all live cheek to cheek with conservatives who, if not as plentiful, are certainly vocal. I’ve seen ‘Blue Lives Matter’ shirts on joggers, a guy skateboarding around carrying a massive Trump/Pence flag, the Republican elephant worn on every piece of attire imaginable, and MAGA hats galore on giant groups of tourists.
I grew up in the American South and I’ve lived in the Bay Area, so I’m experienced in seeing the extremes on both sides, just… not all mixed together like this. It’s weird, and it’s disconcerting, and it’s also quite refreshing. It feels honest, and real.
No hiding behind conflict avoidance, or keeping the peace, or my favorite: the Silicon Valley why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along-and-be-productive-together. The disagreement is blatant and acute and raw, but we all live mixed up as neighbors and there aren’t fights constantly breaking out on the street. I can be walking along in a ‘resist’ shirt and pass a guy in a MAGA hat and everyone survives. Ok, maybe we don’t smile at or acknowledge each other, but we’re both being open about where we stand despite the opposing view being literally in front of our faces, and I find that weirdly relieving. There’s no worrying if everyone is going to find your particular spin on politics acceptable because you already know they’re not, so you might as well just be honest about your views.
Not that there is always such a clear binary distinction, mind you. I was at the counter-protest for ‘Unite the Right 2’ this past weekend and there was a person there on our side of the fence wearing a rainbow flag cape and a ‘Trump 2020’ shirt. I talked to someone who heard someone talking to this person, and apparently they were anti-nazi, pro-queer, pro-BLM… and pro-Trump.