election anxiety countdown

41 Days: Hospitality

Early in the Trump administration, it irritated me to read that high-level officials felt comfortable have a nice relaxing dinner out in the city I call home: people implementing the “Muslim ban,” militarizing border communities, separating Immigrant children from their parents, discriminating against Black people and trans folks, people enabling carbon profiteers’ while valuable seconds disappear from the climate emergency clock, people who are eroding faith in democracy.

I was not alone in this feeling. There were frequent stories of outraged diners and restaurant staff recognizing administration officials, confronting them at their tables or — in only one case I know of — refusing service.

I thought about making a list of the establishments in these stories, spreading the word through street art and organizing boycotts of the restaurants. But what would that accomplish? It would hurt restaurant workers more than anyone else. Besides, as a writer-artist with little budget for dining out, it is no sacrifice to say I won’t eat at places I can’t afford. A boycott of Goya, the canned bean company that supports Trump, is more practical.

The hospitality industry prides itself on civility and service to all (in 2020, to the extent that discrimination is outlawed). Capitol Hill steak houses and Georgetown eateries have been safe havens for politicians with despicable beliefs — and those who enable and profit from their policies — for generations. I fantasize about a world where there are no quiet places to sit for these types other than a gray cafeteria in a secure undisclosed location. But, do I really want to live in a world where ideology dictates where you can go freely, where you can be served? Of course not, but I don’t want Nazis to feel welcome on my block either. There is a line somewhere. Degrees of offenses, degrees of tolerance for each of us.

Dating on the other hand is a bit more personal. Most of the dating apps either allow you to disclose and filter by liberal, moderate, or conservative labels. Reporters have interviewed young single Trump administration staffers about the experience of dating in D.C. For the most part, it sounds like D.C. is swiping left, saying “no, thanks.”

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