Outside the insulated worlds of politics and the news media, there is no normal to return to. Washingtonians who don’t have to hang on the president’s every word are still struggling to adjust to life in a city where the Capitol and the White House have essentially been militarized, and where daily life has been upended by both the coronavirus and civil unrest.
Amy Brandwein, a chef and the owner of Centrolina, has watched brunch-goers return to downtown on the weekends, but she and other restaurateurs have struggled for nearly a year to regain the business lost because of the pandemic.
She is also afraid that the political turmoil will continue. Ms. Brandwein said her plans to install outdoor bubblelike structures to provide a socially distant dining option were delayed because of the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. She estimates she has lost about $200,000 in business on days she had to close because of protests that drew the Proud Boys and other extremist groups.
Mr. Trump may be gone from the capital, but she worries his supporters will still endanger her employees and her business. “I wonder about the security in the future of downtown or generally in D.C.,” she said, “because the Trump movement is still going on.”
As Washington staggers to its feet, it is clear that Mr. Trump is happy to haunt the dreams of anyone suddenly getting more sleep.
He has issued news releases through his post-presidency office whose targets have included not only the entire Democratic Party, but also Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader. He has sat for interviews on Fox News, repeating disputed or untrue theories about his election loss that allies like Sean Hannity have refused to challenge.
And at Mar-a-Lago, his fortress by the sea, Mr. Trump still expects a full crowd on the dinner patio to stand and applaud, just as it did when he was in office.