August 7th (Washington, D.C.) – Protestors outside the White House yesterday found themselves the recipients of a unique proposition when the President of the United States invited them inside to discuss their concerns. Unfortunately for them, a lack of cohesion in the crowd made it appear that the opportunity would slip through their fingers. How this rare opportunity to meet with the President came about and the reverberations from the entire escapade has left the protestors, law enforcement officers, and members of the federal government reeling. Details are still emerging, but this is what we know so far.
Demonstrators a Common Sight Outside the White House
Gatherings at the barricades near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are hardly a unique occurrence. Since the early 20th century, those who wanted a “redress of grievances”—as guaranteed by the First Amendment—have chosen Lafayette Park on the north side of the White House as their preferred meeting spot. Notably, this has included people fighting for access to the ballot box, for civil rights, for and against wars, and in favor or disapproval of whomever was sitting in the Oval Office, amongst other causes. Over time, the number and reasonings for these rallies have grown exponentially to the point where there are hundreds of them a year, often with several on the same day. It is now at a point where most community organizers question the value of having a White House march when there is that level of noise to cut through.
True to form, it is difficult to say what all of the protests outside the White House yesterday were about. The President has caused no shortage of discord in almost every facet of domestic and international life, and this has created many fans and detractors. And as is normally seen, each of these groups also attracts counter-protestors, thus creating more bedlam and confusion around just what is being asked of the government, if anything at all. Oftentimes when protestors are interviewed at the gate, they are unable to articulate their own desires completely; much less provide a tangible and realistic solution.
A source inside the White House said the President was speaking with advisors in a tent outside the Oval Office near the South Lawn when some commotion became audibly noticeable. The President is known to prefer to spend time outdoors whenever possible and had a temporary “outdoor office” built so that work could take place there whenever the weather allowed. This has caused a lot of consternation among the Secret Service as it provides a location where the President can be regularly found that is also easily visible from outside the White House grounds. Moreover, many people who prefer their comings, goings, and interactions with the President to be less conspicuous have been annoyed when they have been spotted by the paparazzi and had their faces plastered all over the newsfeeds. Even other members of the President’s own team have complained about having to leave the climate-controlled environment of the building proper (although it has been poorly rated by prior residents) in order to literally sweat it out with the Commander-in-Chief.
Whatever the specific noise was that reached the President, it apparently piqued the interest of the leader of the free world. One person who wishes to remain anonymous was in the tent-meeting at the time and said the President became increasingly distracted, and soon was unable to focus on the topics being discussed. Instead, the President asked everyone to hold on, got up, and started walking around the historic structures to see what was happening out front. Once the crowds were in sight, the President asked for a bullhorn, which was provided by an officer from the Uniformed Division that protects the White House.
At that point, the President began to walk towards the fence and DEFCON-1 appeared to break out. Everyone involved with the head executive’s security immediately jumped into action, trying to create protective corridors and bubbles, pleading that nothing untoward would happen. A high-ranking member of the Secret Service even approached directly and attempted to dissuade the President from proceeding with what was seemingly about to happen. Instead, the President literally brushed the agent aside and continued striding headlong towards the barrier that separates the White House from the rest of Washington, D.C. and the world at large.
An Offer Impossible to Refuse
As the President approached and people began to realize what was happening, an explosion of cheers and boos erupted in equal measure. Striding close to the fence, the President put the bullhorn to use and asked the crowd to quiet down for just a brief moment so that their concerns could be heard in order. If that request was the President’s true intention, it only partially worked. For every person who stopped yelling, another one started screaming twice as loud. Finally, the President told those in attendance:
All right, all right, enough! I’m willing to hear you out, but it won’t work like this; this is just anarchy! So, here’s what I can do. If you will elect five representatives from among everyone out there to summarize your concerns, those individuals can come inside The White House and present your cases to me.
This offer did actually silence the rowdy audience. Once that happened, the President thanked everyone and repeated the deal, saying they had up to two hours to make their decisions. The one caveat was that security would only admit them once all five representatives were selected. If they could not decide on all five, then no one would be able to come past the gates. With that pronouncement, the bullhorn was handed back to an officer and the President strode away to return to the administration’s previously scheduled tasks.
It was at this point that the aforementioned breakdown began in earnest. There were at least a dozen different groups outside on the street at the time, and each one’s key organizer felt they were the advocate who should go inside. Getting them to narrow down to just five representatives—especially given their disparate interests and opinions within those matters—looked to be impossible. Yet, some progress was made with an agreement reached about three of the representatives after the first hour and a half.
But with just another half hour remaining and two spots left to fill, the conversations began to devolve into heated exchanges, shouting matches, and recriminations. As the clock ticked away and the pressure rose, it was only a matter of time before someone physically pushed another person and a bit of a brawl broke out. After a short time, the Uniformed Division stepped into the fray and separated everyone, ending the violent outbreak.
While all this was occurring, the two-hour window expired. The three representatives that had been previously agreed upon insisted that they should still be allowed inside, but were rebuffed by security. Even the selected representatives’ own compatriots fought against this idea as they felt that their specific interests were not going to be covered by those three alone. One of the preliminarily elected individuals had actually been lightly injured in the melee and was being attended to by EMTs on the scene. This bodily altercation seemed to have taken the wind out of their sails, anyway, and they did not object much as the officers recommended that they leave in peace while they could. Deflated, the crowd dispersed with some receiving medical attention and a few going to jail, at least for the day. The names and details of those detained have yet to be released.
Was Mayhem and Dissolution the President’s True Goal?
With this being the outcome, the only question remaining is if this was an intentional manipulation to get the crowd to turn on itself, give up, and go away; or if the President truly would have met with the protestors. Either answer is fraught with questions, difficulties, and dangers of its own. Thus far, the White House has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
However, now that the President has made this offer once, other groups may take it as precedent and as an open invitation. Organizers now know that they can get the attention of the Commander-in-Chief just by being loud enough. If they have enough people show up with them, they may be able to gain an audience using similar tactics. If the leader of the free world was looking for some peace and quiet at work and at home, these actions may have just produced the opposite effect.
The above piece is an excerpt from the speculative fiction novel 254 Days to Impeachment: The Future History of the First Independent President by J.P. Prag, available at booksellers worldwide.
Learn more about author J.P. Prag at www.jpprag.com.
254 Days to Impeachment is a work of mixed fiction and nonfiction elements. With the fiction elements, any names, characters, places, events, and incidents that bear any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental. For the nonfiction elements, no names have been changed, no characters invented, no events fabricated except for hypothetical situations.
About the Creator
J.P. Prag is the author of "Compendium of Humanity's End", "254 Days to Impeachment", "Always Divided, Never United", "New & Improved: The United States of America", and "In Defense Of...", and more! Learn more at www.jpprag.com.