Is this a democracy? The inauguration parade of 2013

Huge metal gates at my favorite spot on 14th & Pennsylvania made it hard to see the parade. I normally stand here. I've never seen anything like this before.

Huge metal gates at my favorite spot on 14th & Pennsylvania made it hard to see the parade. I normally stand here. I’ve never seen anything like this before.

Everyone,

I’m sorry to interject a sour note in the midst of the celebrations, but as the media is NOT reporting this, I feel I must.

First of all, let me make it clear that I am SO relieved that Barack Obama has been re-elected. (The alternative just didn’t bear thinking about IMHO). I am a big fan of the president and consider myself an “Obama girl.” Please bear that in mind when you read this piece.

Yesterday was the fourth time I’ve attended an inaugural parade. Because I live just a mile from the White House, I usually stroll down to Pennsylvania Avenue and stand on the sidewalk. My favorite spot is 14th and Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, I couldn’t do it. I have never seen anything like it. Literally, the parade route was gated up, so there was no way in or out.

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This is the checkpoint on 14th Street near Pennsylvania Avenue. The crowd was HUGE and it moved at a snail’s pace. Imagine hearing the cheers, and the music, and being unable to SEE anything, and you get a picture of how frustrating it was. After an hour of waiting, my back gave out.

I didn’t have a ticket, I don’t know any politicians and I don’t have any pull. I’m just a regular person. The only way I could get to see the parade was to go through a police checkpoint on 14th Street. But the crowd to get through was HUGE and after waiting around for an hour, we’d only edged forward a few feet, and then only because people were leaving. I walked past police checkpoints at 16th Street and 15th Street. There were signs warning that we’d have to undergo having our bags searched. But by the time I got there (around 3 pm) they were shut. So the only way to actually get on the sidewalk to see the parade was to go through the ONE checkpoint that was still open on 14th Street.

After an hour of waiting, my back gave out (I suffer from low back pain) so I gave up trying to go through. I walked back up to I Street and walked west. Where Pennsylvania Avenue reconnects with 18th Street, I was able to see an 18th Century battalion march past. But that was all.

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A view of the US Department of the Treasury, draped in bunting, with two snipers on top.

It seems a great shame that regular citizens like me can’t participate in our nation’s great day. Perhaps if the nation weren’t awash in 300 million weapons, the authorities wouldn’t see the necessity for posting snipers on top of every building.

Or for caging people in who just want to enjoy themselves.

My relatives in England wanted pictures of the parade. It’s a shame that what I have to share suggests a police state rather than a democratic celebration.

Oh, and I can’t go home and watch this on CNN. I don’t possess a TV.

 

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