Donald Trump has destroyed yet another legacy of President Obama. By erecting barriers, refusing public access and walling himself off from those he is supposed to serve, Trump has completely reversed the People’s House image President Obama sought to create.
The White House has a long and storied history. Built by both freed and enslaved African-Americans, along with immigrants, it has stood for over the past two centuries as a symbol of American freedom and patriotism. In times of trouble, people would look to the White House for guidance and solace. In times of national tragedy or mourning, the flag atop the White House was lowered to half staff.
Now, people see the White House, surrounded by barriers, a chain link fence and guarded by armed members of the National Guard who shine bright lights at peaceful protestors to deny them access to the very place every American has the right to visit.
Erected in 1800, burned in 1814 and again in 1929, coincidentally during the onset of the Great Depression, the White House has always been open to the public, even though various sections were closed off as renovations were made.
Receiving a gift of a big block of cheese, Andrew Jackson invited Americans into the White House to partake in this bounty. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy gave a famous televised tour of the White House, welcoming America into the People’s House, many for the first time.
Over the years, the White House has been a popular tourist destination for both Americans and foreign visitors alike. And while only certain sections of the White House are accessible on the official tour, it has always been available to the public, except during times of national emergency, such as World War II and 9/11.
Tours of the White House have always been free, but require a three month advance notice before tickets are given for admission.
In 2009, President Obama named the White House the People’s House, culminating in the opening of a new White House Visitor’s Center in 2014. The goal was to make the White House as accessible to as many people as possible.
White House tours have been cancelled since March 11th, due to concerns over the coronavirus, despite Trump’s claim the pandemic is a Democratic hoax. Now, it has been transformed into an armed fortress in response to protests over the death of George Floyd.
And while it has not moved, the address for the White House has unofficially been renamed 1600 Black Lives Matter Plaza as the mayor of Washington, D. C. had the words “ Black Lives Matter” painted on the street leading to the residence.
Will tours resume? No one knows. One thing is for certain. By turning the White House into his personal bunker, Trump has erased another Obama legacy.
It is the People’s House no more.