@ Trumper Mob: People live here, you know?

Eric T Gunther, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Today, a mob of Trump supporters decided they were entitled to have their way with one of the most significant institutions of Washington, D.C.: The Capitol.

I’m not sure where these people came from, but I’d be shocked to learn if any are permanent D.C. residents — and not just because 93% of our votes in the presidential election went to President-elect Joe Biden (according to the Associated Press).

No, the reason I’d be shocked is that very few people, especially those who support President Donald J. Trump on “moral” principles, would disrespect their homes in the way that they disrespected mine today.

There is a lot wrong with what occurred and has been occuring. And you can go read any number of reputable news sources for the latest on that. This story is one from a proud D.C. resident, to whom the city is real — not just symbolic.

I didn’t grow up here. But I’ve known for a long, long time that I wanted to live and work in D.C., specifically because of what it symbolized. This city is the center of power, for the entire world. The decisions made here affect billions of people. The power people hold here goes beyond fame; it goes beyond wealth. If you don’t have the mental acuity to keep up in this city, you will be exposed, and you will burn out. Yes, please.

But D.C. is a transient city, they say. People move in, then they’re gone two years later. The elections bring in new crops of “Hill climbers” who keep their parents’ addresses on their driver’s licenses. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s how it goes.

Even if you’ve never been to the nation’s capital, you probably assume the city is transient. It’s difficult to picture people making homes in a city, when all the photos of that city seem to be of pointy monuments and cement boxes where artifacts are stored for the general public to see for free.

Much of that difficulty can be attributed to racism. Most D.C. natives have historically been Black, and history loves to forget stuff like that. There’s also the fact that the federal government works for the people, or at least it’s supposed to. Dollars from paychecks across the country fund these buildings, fund the Senate’s furniture. We all have a right to know what goes on in D.C., and people across the world get to see into the city everyday through the news media.

I get it. My city feels like your city, even if my ZIP code is 20001, and yours is 59604. Heck, my city is your city.

But I insist that you respect the fact that I am a resident here, and you are not.

I’ve been living in the area since 2016 — D.C. proper since 2018. And it was a pain to become a resident. I’ve been to the DMV (motor-vehicle hell, not the region) so many times, it makes my stomach upset just thinking about it. So. Much. Paperwork. And finding new healthcare providers is a chore I don’t think I’ll ever complete. And when you’re a resident of somewhere, you end up sticking around a lot more. Sometimes, I don’t leave for the holidays. This is my home. It’s where I’m most comfortable. It’s a place I care about. It’s a place I have chosen to be.

And it’s not just politicians, lawyers and journalists like me who live here. Small business owners. The person who works the graveyard shift at the McDonald’s on the corner of Columbia and 18th. The teacher. The retired nurse. Children. babies.

Imagine how it must feel to be a D.C. native and watch people riot in the streets like they own the place. To watch them break into a building that you walk past so often you don’t even notice it’s there anymore, that is off limits even for most people with a REAL ID. We sign up for tours and special events to see the Capitol if we don’t work there, damnit.

Along with the despair that comes with watching humans try to violently invalidate democracy for the sake of a deified reality TV screw-up, what happened today made me feel violated — like someone broke into my backyard and dug up my gardens. I’m sure I’m not the only one, and I’m sure others felt it more deeply than I.

Peaceful protests don’t solicit this type of emotion from me. Acts that treat D.C. with dignity and respect make me feel proud to live here. Nothing moves me quite like seeing people take a stand for what they believe in without using fear as a tactic, without threatening physical harm. Civil discourse is what the city is for; it’s the ultimate public square.

But the city is also for living in. I can hear sirens blaring downtown from my kitchen — not a hotel room, not a temporary living space, not a fancy office on the Hill. My kitchen, that my housemate and I have spent time stocking. My kitchen, that I cook in and have to clean seemingly twice as often.

I chose to live in D.C. because of what it symbolizes, even if to some it’s a symbol of a lot that is wrong with the world. I get that, and if you catch me in a bad mood on a bad day, I’ll agree. But I choose to stay because it has become my home.

To residents, D.C. is a lot of things, but it mostly the place where we take out the trash, make our beds, get dressed for work, and build communities and families.

Next time you think about creating fear and chaos in Washington, remember that politics is not the only, nor is it the most important, thing that happens inside its borders.

A business journalist based in Washington, D.C. This blog is not affiliated with that job —there’s a different byline for that.