These are weird times. The sky in Washington, D.C. has been incredibly bright and beautiful. I do not remember experiencing such a long, mild autumn before. It seems like a perfect time to enjoy life in this mellow city that — against all odds — does not seem to be the world capital of power, but the capital of pleasant bike rides with hundreds of miles of well-kept bike trails that are part of its pastoral landscape.
It’s fun. And it’s curious. The capital of the U.S is empty. While the seated president is traveling around Europe, enjoying one of his last flights in the comfortable Air Force One that he likes so much, he is also trying to convince his country’s European allies that the U.S. will not withdraw from the Old Continent. Europeans, like many Americans, are perplexed by the outcome of this election. So was President-elect Trump, who stays locked in his golden tower on Fifth Avenue in downtown New York. He did not expect this victory, and now he has to improvise building his team. But he must also be taking many crash courses on how to manage and govern the complicated reality called the United States — or so it seems, at least.
While frustrated activists are wasting their energy protesting against the results of legitimate elections on the streets of New York and other American cities, the federal administration — that endless army of experts, officials, military, bureaucrats and lobbyists — is waiting for a better opportunity to act. Over the next few days, Trump’s transition team will be revealed, phones will start ringing, chances to get on the bandwagon will be offered and new jobs will be sought out. In these uncertain times, even the real estate market is in a standstill, but ready to jump at the first signal. There are many newly renovated houses in my neighbourhood on the Capitol Hill — ready for the newcomers who will inevitably follow the new bosses. Around the Federal Triangle — the area that includes White House and many of the most important government palaces — there reigns and eerie and silent atmosphere. The only places that are crowded and noisy are restaurants full of delicious food and political guessing. This fervor will die as soon as the new presidential team arrives in town. But for the time being, every table in every restaurant around the Federal Triangle seems like a negotiating table among friends who are checking out their chances, laying out their cards. None of this can be seen in the new Trump Hotel, which seems like an empty cathedral in the desert. But soon enough, the dance will begin.
“This is not the apocalypse,” Obama said in an interview for the New Yorker, pondering on the new unexpected situation. “History does not move in straight lines; sometimes it goes sideways, sometimes it goes backward. I don’t believe in apocalyptic — until the apocalypse comes. I think nothing is the end of the world until the end of the world.”
In spite of the obvious worry for the United States’ future, the president wants to believe that the country that he ran for eight years is more of an aircraft carrier than a speed boat. Obama hopes that Trump will not be able to turn the country around as fast as he would like to. And as Obama says in the interview, when George W. Bush was reelected in 2004, Republicans had both the White House and Congress under their control, and yet — just four years later — the situation turned around completely, and the U.S. even elected its first black president.