The record at Open for Business is already clear on my positions concerning Election 2008. I did not support President Obama’s run for the presidency. But, on this Inauguration Day the matter of what might have been must be set aside for what is. And, what is – admittedly – is pretty spectacular.
I recall a few years ago, some acquaintances I knew who did not like President George W. Bush insisted the president would somehow refuse to step down from power. He would, they said, essentially become a dictator. I knew then that was simply crazy and I did not need to be a prophet to know that. I was confident not just because I was a supporter of President Bush, but also because amongst two centuries of presidents in power during wartime and peace, of good and bad character, none had never committed such an act. Nearly as truly as Americans have affirmed that all are “created equal […] with certain unalienable rights,” we affirm the peaceful transfer of power.
And so, without guns or riots, president after president has turned over his power when he had served his time and the people had called on someone new. With a ceremonial flourish in January (or, originally, March), life moved on with only the smallest hiccups under a new man’s control. It is inspiring when it happens, for even though it is the way things work here in the United States, it is not the sort of thing most of the six billion plus people in the world get to enjoy in their own lands.
To see our new president take the reigns of power peacefully is something we ought not undervalue. It reminds us not of how great America is, but how gracious God is to allow us this freedom and peace.
This particular transition was all the more notable because the two men at the center – Presidents Bush and Obama – seemed genuinely warm towards each other. It is one thing for an outgoing president to grudgingly follow the will of the people and hand over his power, it is quite another to do so with graciousness. In the case of President Bush it was clear that he was genuine in his welcoming of President Obama into the elite club only forty-four people have ever been admitted to.
President Bush seemed to delight in finding ways to help the President-elect have a smooth transition over the last few months, and hopefully the record will recall that in the years to come. President Bush’s own graciousness had to be received graciously to be effective and President Obama seemed to do so in stride.
The example of these men seems to be causing other people to think again about the traditional idea of tearing down the politicians we disagree with. Whether that will last is hard to say, but in this moment, perhaps it would do everyone some good to remember what we have seen today. The last eight years contained an unbelievable hate in the air against the president, and I have to say I wish to join with many other conservatives in the hope that even in our disagreements, we can rise to a more civilized discourse over the next eight.
And, of course that street works both ways.
The lessons of another successful inauguration hopefully will encourage everyone to try to start afresh. We must remember that disagreeing over politics does not mean we are of differing citizenship or humanity.
Whether President Obama serves for four or eight years, I wish him well. With him goes the country, at least to some extent, so I hope he succeeds.
Make no mistake; I plan to disagree with him here when policy differences arise. But for today, my focus is not on policy. Tonight, I am content simply to be an American, an American with a new President to whom he wishes God’s blessings.
Timothy R. Butler is editor-in-chief of Open for Business.
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