By Tom Squitieri, Talk Media News
WASHINGTON — It is now like all other leaders’ compounds in nations where democracy is shivering. Row after row after rows of fences and barriers to separate the feet of the people from the edifice peeking out in the dim bath of hidden lighting.
No longer is the White House bright under the heavenly lights it once had, similar to those at the national monuments. As democracy’s great moment comes to fruition again in the vote of the people, it hides in the darkness.
Tourists no long can pose in front and on this night, on the evening of All Souls Day, the wind blows through the empty streets in chilly mourning the purgatory of the nation.
It is no longer morning in America. It is the dark evening of the country.
Tonight, the tourists who would sing and pose and kiss on the grounds near the White House and have their hearts dance in the joy of the symbol of democracy are replaced by bundled up workers, erecting new fencing to keep people away.
As if a disaster is coming, the streets are mostly empty of civilians. Cars are scant, replaced by vehicles of numerous police entities, revving motors, flashing lights, doing U-turns. Above, helicopters twap-twap-twap and swirl and dive, officially to test radiation. Few who are swimming in the various seas of conspiracy believe that official reason, memories fresh from June when helicopters were used to harass demonstrators.
Then the quiet returns and the city has only a silent whimper along its streets.
No street signs or tourist guides are needed to guide one to the White House. The desolation deepens and the wood covering businesses grows more frequent and thicker as the street numbers draw closer to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Some places brave it without wood to cover doors and windows. The Trump International Hotel at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., set to host a victory party Tuesday night, is uncovered — minus its usual buzz of crowds.
So too is the Old Ebbitt Grill at 675 15th Street, N.W., a walrus platter throw from the new un-scalable fencing going up. Patrons dined and drank and the venerable establishment — along the route the British took in August 1814 on the way to burn the White House. It plans to open at noon on Election Day.
On Constitution Avenue, between the White House and the Washington Monument, forklifts resembling yellow like drone bees move piles of metal fencing for staging along the street. Workers blow on their hands as they wait to create a barrier on The Ellipse between the first president and the current one.
Idling nearby are huge trucks laden with Jersey barriers, stretching on the south side of Constitution Avenue from 17th Street, N.W. – the western perimeter of the White House compound — west to 22nd Street, N.W, in front of the large statue of Albert Einstein.
When complete, the election barrier will traverse down 15th Street N.W., along Constitution Avenue N.W., up 17th Street, N.W., and then square off along H Street, N.W.
The plywood precautions mirror reports from other cities, as concerns intensified from reports of political supporters already blocking access routes, harassing campaigners, and threatening to produce armed poll watchers. National Guard officials said its troops are on standby in various parts of the country to lend support. That again triggered memories of their response to demonstrations in Lafayette Square with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Now Lafayette Square is firmly tucked behind rows of fences and barriers.
“Our intelligence community has warned that the period immediately before and after Election Day is going to be uniquely volatile,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., wrote in a Tweet. Warner, up for reelection, is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Others are following disaster preparations. Students at George Washington University, six blocks west of the White House, received emails last week saying, “We suggest preparing for the Election Day period as you would for a hurricane or a snowstorm” and directed to bulk up on essentials. Foreign embassies planned to close. Young reporters asked war correspondent veterans how best to safely cover what may unfold. Grocery stores report surges in shoppers.
Even the city’s usually omnipresent rats seem to be hiding. The four-legged ones.
(Photo: Workers erect a non-scalable fence on 15th Street N.W. and Pennsylvania Avenue, one block east of the White House)