- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2017

Donald Trump supporters in the District — all 4 percent of the city’s electorate — are relishing the chance to live behind enemy lines with the new president, saying they’re confident they’ll win converts once people see what he has in store for them and their city.

The famously Democrat-run city so far has not been particularly welcoming. There’s been far less enthusiasm for Mr. Trump’s inauguration than the previous two, and protests have erupted regularly in the wake of his election — including outside his ritzy new hotel blocks, where a California man unsuccessfully tried to light himself on fire this week in what he described as “an act of protest.”

“Unfortunately it will take them a while to get their heads around the fact that Mr. Trump can be a positive agent for change — not only around the country but also in Washington, D.C.,” says Maya Pickering, a Trump supporter who calls the city home.

Lori Saxon, who started a pro-Trump Facebook group called “The Deplorables” that blossomed to more than 500,000 members during the campaign, attributed Mr. Trump’s lackluster showing here to the bloated government.

“I think in part because they wanted to keep their jobs and that he will find out they are dead weight and find out a way to get rid of them, and the federal and D.C. bureaucrats,” said Ms. Saxon, a former Reagan administration appointee.

While walking her dog this week, a neighbor shared with her that he was “depressed” by the sight of Trump supporters being bused into the city.

“He wasn’t happy. I was thrilled. So I kept my mouth shut,” she said.

Still, Ms. Saxon, who testified on behalf of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his 1991 Senate confirmation hearing, is optimistic about the city warming to Mr. Trump.

“I think people are coming out of the closet that they are really happy that Trump won in D.C., but they couldn’t show it before,” Ms. Saxon said.

To be sure, there just aren’t that many Republicans or independents, much less Trump supporters, to begin with.

The city has voted Democratic in every presidential election since it won the right to vote for the White House in 1964, and it’s never been particularly close. President Richard M. Nixon topped out at 22 percent of the vote in 1972, and no Republican has cracked 10 percent since 1988.

But even by those standards, Mr. Trump did historically bad, winning just 4 percent of the vote here.

Residents also voted overwhelmingly in favor of petitioning Congress to make the District the 51st state.

Statehood has been a non-starter for most congressional Republicans, but Mr. Trump has been less stringent on the issue, saying in a 2015 “Meet the Press” interview that he “would like to do whatever is good for the District of Columbia because I love the people.”

Whatever the case, residents have struggled to come to grips with the post-election reality.

Some have talked about moving away from the city. They’ve marched in anti-Trump protests, carrying signs that read “Will Trade 1 Donald Trump for 10,000 refugees” and “You Cannot Unify with Hate!” and railed against his Cabinet nominees.

Yard signs have popped up proclaiming homes to be bastions for the slate of liberal orthodoxy: Black Lives Matter, women’s rights, pro-illegal immigrant and believing that “science is real.”

Still, many residents are reeling as the world they thought they knew turned upside town. That’s spawned “WTF NOW?!” meetings, in which former Washingtonian columnist Todd Kilman and “a wide array of distinguished thinkers” have tried to “contextualize the Trump phenomenon in American and world history, and to examine the social, cultural, economic, philosophical, political, ethical, moral, and linguistic ramifications and implications of a Trump presidency.”

The fourth “WTF?!” was held Thursday. It cost $10 to attend.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city’s non-voting congressional representative, has sought to assure residents that the city is not doomed, outlining at community meetings her plans for “protecting D.C. under the Trump administration and the Republican Congress.”

Mr. Trump’s backers, though, say they are reveling in the moment — as well as in some of the hyperventilating going on around them in a city that Forbes has rated as the second-most liberal in the nation, behind San Francisco.

Ms. Saxon said she scored good tickets to the inauguration and bought a new dress and shoes for an inaugural ball. She also said she is looking forward to seeing Justice Clarence Thomas swear-in Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and “ecstatic” about Mr. Trump being sworn in.

“I just think it is phenomenal,” she said. “I mean, what could be better?”

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