High noon on the Potomac, that’s when it goes down. No seriously, legally speaking the peaceful transfer of power happens at 12:00pm Eastern time on January 20th. Inauguration or not. Swearing in or not. Ready or not, here comes Trump.
Of all the things that Make America Great, there is one thing that sets us apart. It is the peaceful transition of power. This is the cornerstone of what makes our country great. It is the indispensable piece and the lasting legacy of George Washington, and arguably the greatest gift that our first president gave us. Washington gave us the gift of stepping down. He gave us the gift of saying goodbye.
As the peaceful transition of power commences, and as one president gives way to the next, this gives us an opportunity to stand in awe of the fact that we are a country where our leaders are not chosen at the point of a gun, but at the casting of a ballot. We are a country that respects the rule of law and the system in which we’ve agreed to be governed under. In one of the most divided times in our country since the actual civil war, it should give us hope that we choose to continue to resolve deep and profound differences with heated debate rather than heated gun powder. At some level, we realize the things that unite us are far greater than the things that divide us.
Throughout the transition, we’ve all seen calls to unite behind the newly elected president. We’ve seen calls from the president’s opposition affirming his role as the president. The outgoing president has been gracious to the incoming administration to make sure that it is a smooth transition. As the new president comes to power, it is important to realize what entails supporting the president.
The gift of Washington teaching future presidents how to say goodbye is that he demonstrated that it is the office that is to be respected, not the man. With this gift, we learn how to respect the position in which this person has been elevated. Ultimately the institution is more important then the temporary steward holding it.
We forget that sometimes. We forget that although we may categorically oppose the policies of the individual occupying the Oval Office with every fiber of our being, we respect the individual occupying it because he was duly elected. To disrespect the person in the office by calling into question their loyalty, their citizenship, their motives, or by boycotting the symbol of Washington’s gift is to hold contempt our fellow citizen.
The beautiful part of this gift, the beautiful part of the office of the president, and the beautiful part of the peaceful transition of power is that supporting the duly elected president does not mean that we have to be in agreement with the President. To question our leaders positions, policies, dealings, and philosophies is both our birthright and our responsibility. The magic of this country is that I can simultaneously support the president and advocate for the defeat of his agenda, and ultimately his electoral defeat, and do so with grace and respect.
At some point in the last 2 administrations we’ve lost that. We’ve ascribed sinister and ulterior motives to the steward of the presidency. We’ve disagreed with them in a way that is disagreeable. We’ve disrespected the gift that Washington has left us. We’ve disrespected our fellow man.
So tomorrow, high noon, we have a clean slate. We have a new president who has earned our respect. He will also test our patience. He will do something that boggles the mind. If the transition is a harbinger, he will tweet something worthy of the most passionate eye rolls. And Trump will be our president. January 20th. High noon. What better time to once again appeal to the better angels of our nature.