By Moni Basu, CNN
Ashburn, Virginia (CNN) - The alternating red and blue yard signs are long gone, and people here have gone back to familiar rhythms of life. Long morning commutes, after school soccer games and maybe a family dinner at Clyde's Willow Creek Farm.
But, as Barack Obama begins his second term, the air is decidedly unchanged in this northern Virginia community of tidy subdivisions and endless rows of townhouses.
After a viciously fought, pavement-pounding political campaign, the people are left divided, the gulf between them wide like the grassy medians that separate left and right sides of the roads that lead to the nation's capital.
There is the reliably Republican old Ashburn. Some of those folks remember lush fields and woods brimming with redbuds and ash. Legend has it the place took its name from an old ash struck by lightning so hard that it smoldered for a week.
There is the new divided Ashburn that looks like America's new normal. An explosion of growth in the last two decades turned this place from a largely white conservative constituency to one that is darker-skinned and comprised of more professional women. They call themselves progressive thinkers and are a big reason that Obama in 2008 became the first Democrat to win here - and in the state of Virginia - since Lyndon B. Johnson's victory in 1964.
This time, the commonwealth again hung in the balance. Loudoun County was a battleground within a battleground. Ashburn was its epicenter.
In the end, Obama took Virginia with 51% of the vote to Mitt Romney's 47%, but Obama won in Ashburn's nine precincts by a mere 212 votes. In the Belmont Ridge precinct, the difference was six votes. That's how close it was here.
The people in Ashburn hold widely differing visions of how to steer America in the next four years, but they are tired of the partisan bickering in the halls of power in Washington. They wonder what happened to the voices of reason, the voices of moderation.
About eight in 10 people see partisan divide as the largest conflict among Americans, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last week.
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama entered the room a lot more than I thought they would. We're not feeling confident as a nation that we're doing well. - Mike Oberschneider
As Obama takes the inaugural oath Monday, the wish from divided Ashburn is voiced in unison: Mr. President, they say, "We want you to work with Congress. We want you to fix America."
Obama can't fix "America" like King Ramses couldn't build a pyramid by himself. One man could never fix a country that takes its culture from the same media that airs shows like Jerry Springer and that waffles over assault weapon control while its children are massacred at school by the mentally ill and its pious are massacred at church by the depraved.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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