How awesome it is to be an American today.
I have to admit that I have been somewhat worried over the past two weeks about how this day would dawn, and about how it would end.
I’m breathing calmly, now that dark has fallen outside my window, and with a sense of relief that the events in Washington, D.C. today unfolded as they did, that the 46th president and vice president took their oaths of office, celebrated quietly, transacted some business and are about to settle in to their new residences and get on with the governing of the country.
I am pleased also that the 45th president and his wife are now at home in Florida, surrounded by family and, hopefully, enjoying their evening as private citizens.
No matter what your political views may be, Inauguration Day has always seemed to me to be the one day that we all believe in the greatness, celebrate the history and look forward to the future of this country. Any nation that has carried on this tradition since February 1793, when George Washington was unanimously elected to serve a second term, must be doing something that its citizens find worthy of preserving.
Tonight I will sleep knowing that this country I love has once again peacefully transferred leadership to a new president. We currently have a deeply divided country, one that in many ways is similar to Washington’s young country. We, as a nation, are no stranger to dissent and political unrest. If you think the past four years, or 12, or 20 have been outside the norm, all you have to do is read your history.
But the enduring truth is that for 232 years this system has served us well, although not without some strong dissent.
I will leave the rest to the pundits and analysts, the newscasters and the history-writers, but I am proud of our country this evening, and I am heartened by the low-key handling of the events of the day.
Incoming President Biden was gracious enough to express gratitude to outgoing President Donald Trump for the traditional note left for him in the Oval Office. He declined to discuss its contents, saying it was private, which seems appropriate under the circumstances.
In November 2016, following the unexpected victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, I wrote another post. It followed another bitter campaign and another time of turmoil in this country. It was the beginning of four years of “Not my President” anger and disappointment.
I choose to repeat that post today, as we move on, with the belief that it is as pertinent now as it was then.
What to tell the children?
I may be old-fashioned, and my answer may be simplistic.
But why is there any question about what to tell the children?
I would tell them that yesterday, our country elected a new president. Some people were for one candidate and others were for another but, in the end, the winner becomes everyone’s president.
It is not necessary to agree with everything he says, does or stands for. But, because he won fair and square by following the election procedures that have been established and by which we have elected our leaders for more than 200 years, Donald Trump IS the president-elect.
His opponent called him late last night to tell him that she understands and accepts that fact. He was gracious last night and she was the same this morning.
The current president has invited the president-elect to the White House tomorrow to talk about the orderly transition of power in the most democratic and diverse country on the face of the earth.
America’s strength is, and will continue to be that every four years we go to the polls to elect, in a more or less peaceful and civilized manner, the person who will lead us. We are blessed to not have to endure periodic coups or military takeovers. We still possess the right to disagree, to criticize, to poke fun; we are allowed to be disrespectful and overreactive – even to be nasty to one another – but why would we want to prolong that atmosphere? Innuendo and loathsome behavior ran rampant this year during an overly long campaign. I think it is time to tell the children that the time for that is over.
Be disappointed in the results, if you are, but leave aside the drama and the invective. Be sad, but be ready to move on. This is not the end of the world, nor is it the end of this country. The morning dawned and the only thing that has changed is that the campaign has ended. The potential still exists that, with a can-do attitude, a positive spirit, and the willingness to put aside the name calling, we can relearn a way to talk to one another with respect and thereby to forge understanding.
Pouting, ranting and bitterness have no place in the post-election landscape. Not if we want to demonstrate to our children the underlying strength of this nation. Telling someone that their opinion is not wanted, needed or valued only exacerbates the hurt and elevates the rancor. Telling our children anything other than the facts perpetuates our own prejudices and contributes little to our children’s understanding.
Unfortunately, as I roamed through Facebook posts this morning, I saw too many attempts — still — to silence opposing views and to inflict hurt rather than seek understanding.
We do not have to agree; we simply have to listen.
And then we have to grit our teeth and get down to business. That is what we should tell our children.
This is a great time for all of us to learn how to talk about politics, about our experiences, our hopes and dreams and visions for a better world. It’s important!
I see today as a great opportunity. And I look forward to the future of our country. Hopefully, our children will grow up with a sense of how great it is to be an American.
It is my belief that we are, always have been, and will continue to be, a great nation. All we have to do is believe it and play a part in making it so. I can’t help but wonder what the past four years would have been like had every citizen of this nation joined in welcoming Donald Trump as “our president.” Perhaps we can take a lesson from the past four years and come together to support President Biden as “our president.”