“Have you seen those naked pictures of Trump’s wife?” the bartender at Bobby Van’s hollers across the bar. “They’re amazing,” he adds, to raucous laughter. “He doesn’t need to build a wall, he could just blow them up and put them along the border.”
This is Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC, two days after one of the greatest upsets in American political history. Bobby Van’s, like a lot of bars around here, is fitted out with a preppy décor of wood panelling, marble, crisp white sheets, and stupendously good seafood. In the wake of the bartender’s outburst, average Joes propping up the bar discuss the outcome of the election and what went wrong, as I tuck into crabcake-stuffed giant shrimp – a bizarre concoction, but quite possibly the greatest crustacean creation I have ever experienced. Yep, despite 93% of voters in the District casting their ballot in favour of Hillary Clinton, everyone here seemed to be taking the result remarkably well.
Rewind a day and, watching CNN from my hotel room on Capitol Hill, reports poured in from across the country of mass protests, some of which escalated into full-on riots. Not so in DC. The only ‘protest’ anyone could find in the District was a pathetically British and half-arsed one the night before as a lone man outside the White House attempted (and failed) to set fire to a Trump cap with a lighter. Come on, mate, at least bring some bloody lighter fluid, for God’s sake. Even on Thursday, as Trump travelled from New York to meet Obama at the White House, ne’er a protestor stirred. Even when a full-blooded protest finally materialised, it was four days late, and given DC’s small size could well have been made up largely of residents from neighbouring Maryland and Virginia.
The only protest I saw with my own eyes was so charmingly drôle, it hardly even qualified. On the day of the election itself, myself and a couple of British friends who happened to be in the city convened at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania and 12th. As the former district post office, the building inside was suitably grand and surprisingly tasteful in its décor, as well as serving an excellent selection of cocktails and bar food. Outside was a lone protestor with a two-sided sign reading “What is the difference between Donald Trump and Bill Cosby?” on one, and “Bill Cosby pays his taxes” on the other. Expecting an angry nut, we thought we’d risk a quick chat, and were surprised to find a well-humoured and light-hearted chap who was only too happy to pose for photographs with a cheeky smile and joie de vivre. He genuinely seemed more motivated by his joke than any anger for Mr Trump.
Throughout my entire stay in DC, I never once felt like a foreigner, and felt immensely at home there. The good humour and hospitality of its people, its incredible food and drink, its pure style, meant this was never really not going to be the case. But this more relaxed and humorous approach to politics also felt like home. Perhaps the folks in DC have gotten a bit too used to ‘taxation without representation’ – the odd situation whereby, in not being a state and controlled directly by Congress, the Federal Territory has no senators or congressmen of its own. Or perhaps we left a little more than ash behind when we torched Washington to the ground in 1814 (sorry not sorry, guys).
All the same, I fell in love with DC and I will most definitely be back, if not just for the crabcake-stuffed shrimp. Take me back to the Potomac!
This article originally appeared on Conservatives for Liberty.