Today marks one of the most important days in our nation’s history, as we witness the peaceful transition of power from President Barack Obama to President-Elect Donald Trump.
Since George Washington voluntarily stepped aside after serving two terms on March 4, 1797, this transition has been a truly remarkable event. At the time Washington stepped down after eight years in office, it was absolutely unheard of. Remember, there was nothing like this form of American democracy anywhere in the world at that time — in most nations, a monarch ruled by divine right, with near absolute power.
Shortly after the colonies won the Revolutionary War, there were some ready to declare Washington as king, simply because people didn’t know how to live without a king.
Washington showed a keen understanding of what the colonies needed, as well as demonstrating immense humility, by turning down that offer and by stepping aside from his role as president after two terms. Though the two-term rule wasn’t codified by Congress until 1947, and not adopted by the states until 1951, every sitting president followed Washington’s example, stepping aside after two terms (if they won a second term), until Franklin Roosevelt won four terms.
Even today, nearly 220 years after Washington set that example, it’s still a remarkable event in a world filled with dictators, despots, and military strong-arm leaders.
The presidential inauguration isn’t so much about party politics and election winners gloating over election losers. It’s a celebration of America and our form of government.
That’s why it truly is disappointing to see so many of our Congressional leaders skipping today’s events.
For weeks we’ve been hearing the steady whine of celebrities and celebratory-want-to-bes, all talking about how they’ll refuse to attend today’s inauguration. So what? This all comes across as the typical Hollywood narcissism, individuals demonstrating a need to draw the spotlight to themselves regardless of how demeaning they become in doing so.
To those folks, we say great — you won’t be missed, and now there will be more room for others at the ceremony.
But we expect more of our elected leaders. Two members of the North Carolina Congressional delegation, Rep. Alma Adams and Rep. G.K. Butterfield, have both said they will not attend as a protest against President-Elect Trump.
We understand these two Democrats may not like Trump — many people don’t — and that hard feelings over this most recent presidential election are likely to last for a long time. But Donald Trump won the election; in a few short hours he will assume the office of president, and it’s time for folks to accept that.
If Butterfield, Adams, and others in Congress can’t adequately represent the people of their districts at this time of national celebration, we have to question whether they are qualified to represent the people of their districts at any time.