DC after Trump

There’s no denying the mood swing in the District of Columbia following the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States. It’s been a somber week on the streets.

It certainly goes beyond the simple fact that Trump won just 4.1% of the city’s vote, or the fact that he represents the Republican party. His specific campaign of white grievance politics, xenophobia, and know-nothingness cut against the District’s civic values.

This is bad.  But that’s no reason to overreact.

The idea that this will send the city’s economy tumbling is without evidence. Previous changes in administration haven’t impacted housing prices one way or another. Despite the role as a capital city, the reality is that so much of what happens in this city extends well beyond the reach of the federal government. President Trump might be the best opportunity those seeking to ‘re-brand’ the DC region never wanted.

For ‘culture,’ starting from the premise that DC’s culture is solely defined by the handful of people working in the West Wing is never a good start for an article about city life in Washington. Likewise, asserting that the city was a rotting shell until the Obama family arrived is laughable.

Despite what anyone says, there’s absolutely no clear indication of what a Trump administration would mean for infrastructure or urban policy. The dog caught the car; nobody knows what will happen next. We’ll have lots of battles about the federal role in shaping our cities, but those battles will take place in a different, national context.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity here. There’s room for the District to step up and take the lead. If city leaders want to soothe concerns about the impact on the city’s economy or culture, then there’s no better time than now to take the reigns.

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