My first trip to Washington, D.C. was during a government shutdown. Alongside the national monuments inexplicably guarded by park rangers and caution tape — as if that effort cost the government less money than just leaving the monuments in peace — I remember observing sprinklers running in the rain on public grounds and a locked public bathroom with its lights on. Undeterred by that impression, I was still thrilled with the city.
By the time I graduated high school, I was determined to end up living and working in D.C. I went to college in northern Virginia in part for the proximity it offered to the Washington political scene. My first college internship led me to spend a summer in the city and it lived up to my rosy expectations — the excitement and conveniences of a city were at my fingertips without the grime, claustrophobia, or overwhelming size of a place like New York.
I loved walking past important-looking people on my way to the office, trying out food trucks in Farragut Square at lunch, going to the Kennedy Center, exploring museums after work, networking over coffee. Was I looking through starry-eyed intern glasses? Of course. But there were still real things to love about the city.
Fast-forward, and my plans to settle in the city were delayed by the Covid shutdown. I ended up starting a remote job (here at The Federalist) and placing my big-city plans on pause until the Covid mania subsided and the dust from a summer of unrest was settled.
Now, almost two years after unscientific Covid lockdowns pushed by power-hungry Democrats shuttered cities like D.C. across the country, I’m thanking my stars I dodged signing a lease.
Just earlier this month, Mayor Muriel Bowser forced a citywide vaccine mandate that bars the unvaccinated from restaurants, coffee shops, entertainment and sports venues, gyms, and conferences. Adult patrons must show proof of vaccination and a photo ID to enter such venues (more than the city requires when you show up to vote).
Meanwhile, crime has soared. Just last year, Time reported, “In Washington D.C. over 200 murders were recorded for the first time since 2003.” The homicide rate for 2021 was more than 200 percent higher than a decade prior.
Last month, a father pushing his baby in a stroller in broad daylight was assaulted by a man who threw a brick at them with no apparent motive. In July, gunshots sent fans at a Nationals baseball game into panic. That same weekend, a six-year-old girl was killed in a drive-by shooting.
A recent report showed that carjackings in D.C. jumped from 360 in 2020 to 426 in 2021. Days after 66-year-old Muhammad Anwar was killed in a carjacking, Bowser was tweeting that “auto theft is a crime of opportunity.”
Recently, someone planning a trip to D.C. asked me where the safest parts of town to stay would be, and out of curiosity I searched for a crime map. The entire downtown was red, from Capitol Hill to the Potomac.
I haven’t ridden the Metro subway system in more than a year, but friends tell me it’s worse than ever. After a train derailed “at least three times in a single day” in October, the metro system pulled about 60 percent of its trains from service.
While no one was injured, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) offered a meager $21 to those involved in the incident as an apology. WMATA “said the remaining 40 trains will run every 30 minutes. Passengers reported waits of as long as an hour during Monday morning’s rush,” a local news station reported in the aftermath.
Add an extra helping of left-wing neighbors, urban smog, homeless camps, and crime-filled parks that Bowser only cleans up when she’s holding a press conference, and what’s not to love?
Meanwhile, the cost of rent in D.C. actually grew by 12 percent in the past year. A one-bedroom apartment will set you back an average of nearly $2,500. For that monthly price, you can rent a five-bedroom house in Tucson, Ariz., or Indianapolis, for example.
I sincerely hope the city rights itself soon. I haven’t given up hope that, despite the faults it’s always had, it’ll be a bustling place again and even a welcoming one. But for now, I’ll enjoy my freedoms, my safe streets, clean air, cheaper housing, and 60-second commute.