w a s h i n g t o n

[ 18:16 monday 13 november – washington dulles airport gate b32 ]

i’m used to arriving at airports at the last moment but today i heeded jodie’s warnings of impossible traffic on the freeway and hour-long queues at security and set out far in advance of my flight. however i evidently over-compensated and consequently my experience of the airport has been unusually relaxed. i had time to take some photographs of the beautiful swooping architecture of the main terminal (eero saarinen’s work?). now i’m sitting in the cavernous “concourse b” complex with its polished floor stretching off into the distance and a pervasive hush. my flight will start boarding any moment.

this has been an exciting week to be in the united states. many people, myself included, had a sense of foreboding that the democrats would not do as well as anticipated in the mid-term elections. there was an awful prospect that they might fail to gain a majority in the house, even against such an unpopular administration. but as i went to sleep in my hotel on tuesday night it was clear such anxieties were misplaced. virginia itself turned out to be one of the crucial contests in the senate elections but there was little excitement on the streets of charlottesville beyond a few balloons in the webb office on main street.

speaking with people in the days following the election i sensed a subtle shift, a new optimism. people are sanguine about the democrats’ capacity to screw things up royally over the next couple of years but more widely the election is seen as a symbol of momentum towards the centre. extreme candidates from both parties were rejected. the successful democrats were those who spoke like moderate republicans. in a polity that has been characterised by acute polarisation this, at least, is encouraging.

: c :

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