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For eight years, the heart of Washington, D.C. and the heart of the executive branch beat in-time. The kind of beautifully progressive rhythm that makes you step a little lighter. A thumping beat that you feel in your chest. The kind that makes you proud.

It’s no secret or surprise that the Obamas set the tempo.

They were young and stylish. Ambitious and intelligent. Charming and in love. On a very deep level, Barack and Michelle Obama represented the very best version of what I wanted D.C. to be. I agreed philosophically and politically with President Obama, whose age and demeanor made him seem much more in touch with the world as I see it.

Their presence helped make D.C. a destination city again. And more personally, they made my adopted city really feel like home.

During these past eight years, it’s been easy to be on Team D.C.

And, clearly, I’m not the only one who feels that way. The District is vastly different than it was before Obama took office. Median income is up almost $20,000, and median home sale prices have gone up by almost $200,000. The population itself has grown by almost 100,000. This transformation isn’t without consequences—most notably, gentrification—but still, one thing is almost universally true:

D.C. fucking loves the Obamas.

Which makes this kind of awkward. Because starting today, there’s a new First Family in town. And, D.C. is not happy about it.

So how do you solve this equation?

Take the seat of the federal government

Subtract an Obama White House
Subtract huge (almost) city-wide growth
Add a White House that less that 5 percent of the city voted for
Add a country in turmoil
And multiply that by D.C.’s proximity to its epicenter.

As concerned citizens and residents of this city, we have a responsibility to answer that question.

So, what did you get? Seriously, D.C. Because I need to know. What is your character when the going gets tough?

In case there was any doubt about hearing my opinion, here’s what I think:

We, the concerned residents of D.C. do not leave. We show our toughness and resilience, fighting to keep this city a place with a roaring economy and progressive values. A great place to live, play, and raise a family, regardless of who is in the White House. Sure, it was easy to jump on the D.C. bandwagon when things were great. But, when things are a little uncomfortable, and little less certain, can we use this moment to bind together?

We, the many bureaucrats, staffers, and consultants of the federal government and national non-profits, must rededicate ourselves every single day to making this country a more perfect union. A nation that promotes justice and equality. One that provides dignity to its people and gives every family a chance to feed and educate their children.

We, as the citizens of this great city, need to act more locally. We can’t fix everything across the country, but maybe we can begin next door. Volunteer more, get to know our neighbors, maybe someone that doesn’t look exactly like us. And, when necessary, make the local changes needed when the federal government’s policies are not in line with our values.

Can we find our rhythm even without our seasoned conductors?

I’m over here, tapping my foot and waiting for your answer. It might look like impatience, but really, I’m just keeping time. Because I’m sticking around. This is my home, even when it’s not easy.

And, in case you needed a little more incentive, a little more reason to believe, the Obamas are sticking around too.

Mike Vaughan-Cherubin

A lover of life from upstate NY. Currently DC chillin'. Days spent at the intersection of sport & youth development or sun & pavement.

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