The new Americans
Attorney John Whitbeck, 36, makes it a point to show up at events like Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, where he tries to tout the merits of the GOP. South Asians tend to vote Democratic.
Republican state delegate David Ramadan filed a bill this year that would officially recognize Diwali day.
Whitbeck, chairman of the 10th Congressional District Republican Committee, concedes his party did not do a great job in reaching out to Loudoun's newest citizens.
Between the 2000 and 2010 Census, Loudoun County's white population dropped from 83% to 69%. The county is now almost 15% Asian (a huge number are from the Indian subcontinent) and 13% Hispanic.
The rapidly changing demographics played a big role in Obama's victory here, as they did nationally.
"It all starts with the recognition that the cultural framework of Loudoun County includes them," Whitbeck says. "Our children go to the same schools yours do. You are just as able to be a part of the Republican Party as the white middle-class guy."
But that message has so far fallen short with many South Asians like accountant Hari Sharma. who sees the GOP as making token efforts to gain his vote. He'll watch the inauguration Monday with hope in his heart that this president will make America feel more like home to those who are fairly new here.
"Obama's policies are more supportive of immigrants," he says.
As someone who looks at income tax returns for a living, he thinks Obama is on the right track by increasing taxes for the wealthy. Sharma says Obama has done a good job in turning the economy around and thanks the president for his 401(k) rising back up after it was halved. He applauds Obama for starting the new year with an effort to curb gun violence.
"We come from a peace-loving culture," he says.
Sharma, 49, met his wife, Sarita, 39, after both left their native Nepal and enrolled in university in Virginia. They settled in Loudoun County in 2004, part of the explosive wave of immigrants looking for opportunities that are scarce back home. They worked for AOL for a while. Sharma now runs his own accounting business.
Their daughter Simron sits in her father's home office studying for two exams the next day. Math and journalism.
Sarita Sharma yells from the living room. "I want an A in both."
That's the South Asian ethic. Study hard or you won't be prosperous in life. Education guarantees are important for the Sharmas. They want Obama to set policies that will increase accessibility to college, make it more affordable, especially for foreign students.
They see Obama as a president who extends a hand to people of color. That's important to Sharma when South Asians are underrepresented institutionally. "We want our voices heard," he says.
Obama's reach to minorities is a big reason Barbara Mitchell says he is the right man to lead America at this juncture in the nation's history.
Mitchell, 53, was born to Panamanian parents but was adopted and raised by a white couple in Maryland. She had taken, as she calls it, a perilous journey of the heart to find her family.
On this dreary January day, her niece is visiting Ashburn from Panama City and Mitchell is trying out her brand new countertop grill to make blueberry pancakes.
She says she read that Virginia was one of the top 10 states for Latino voter impact. Last year, she worked hard to bring more Latinos in Ashburn and Loudoun County, many of whom hail from El Salvador and Mexico and are less educated than their Asian counterparts, into the political fold.
She set up shop in front of an international grocery. She registered only two people that day but handed out 40 flyers describing the path to citizenship and got an earful about how devastating deportations were.
It was an epiphany of sorts.
"Immigration. Immigration. Immigration reform," she says. That's what she wants to tell Obama before he takes the oath.
Stop the deportations that separate families and then help Latinos in this country get a better education, she says. Some 41% of Hispanics who are 20 or older do not have a regular high school diploma, according to the Pew Research Hispanic Center.
"Education matters so much in terms of breaking into the middle class," she says. "I just feel it's going to be really tough for young, impoverished Latinos."
A strong nation
Corporate executive Ralph Buona ran for a county supervisor post last year because he believed the area needed people like him with strong business backgrounds to deal with whirlwind growth. In 2000, there were just 30 schools in Loudoun County; now there are 82.
Buona, 57, is less interested in the social issues that make people think vivid red and blue.
"People's concerns in Ashburn are fiscal," he says. "I'd tell Obama to stop dictating and start being a leader. I'd say you're only half of the deal. You're great at increasing revenues but you have to start looking at costs."
It's a position that architect Bob Klancher agrees with. "It's the national debt that's crushing us," he says. "I don't understand what a lot of folks saw in the president that made them want to rehire him."
Klancher, 54, was raised in Cleveland by parents of Slovenian heritage who worshiped Jesus, FDR and JFK. He was the first one in his family to earn a college degree.
In his first presidential election in 1976, he just couldn't vote for Jimmy Carter. Carter's policies didn't make sense to him. He has voted Republican ever since.
But polarization of the nation, he believes, began in the 2000 election after the Supreme Court had to step in to help decide the Florida results.
"Both parties have drummed out the moderates. People take absolutist stances whether it's the Republicans with their no-tax pledge or the Democrats on spending. I am frustrated."
He wants Obama to bring back the optimism Americans once had that their children's lives will be better than theirs.
Younger Ashburn residents like Caleb Weitz understand Klancher's concerns. He's 25 but already stashes about 10% of his salary working at the Board of Supervisors office in his retirement account.
"As a young person, I'm not expecting to get Social Security," he says. "There's also a concern in my generation about how much debt is being handed down."
But Weitz has one other major concern.
As a young American, he is proud that his country has been a leader; that it has been able to help other nations, guide them to form democratic societies and adopt the values Americans cherish.
He's come to terms with the notion that he will perhaps retire without the safety nets his parents had, including Social Security. But he wants the country he grows old in to still be the world's superpower.