Celebrate the Presidency, not the President

By Beth Wright, Contributing Writer

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A Republican and a Democrat set off in the same car to the inauguration in Washington, yet neither supported the man sworn into office. Why would two so different people intend to celebrate a ceremony that neither wished for? The President-elect himself had very little to do with this decision, rather it was the immensity of the moment that these drove political  opposites to spend more than six hours in a car together. As Senator Roy Blunt said during the ceremony, the inauguration is both “commonplace and miraculous” and the enormity of any peaceful transfer of power from one man, one party, one government – to an entirely refreshed one – is incredible in history. The 2016 Election brought forth intense and bitter rhetoric as well as its share of violence and dissent. President Trump has been, is, and will continue to test America’s democratic system. However, the nearly flawless execution of the transition is a testament to American devotion to democracy and the democratic process, especially for those Americans attending events in protest or those who watched in sadness. Sen. Blunt consolidated these thoughts into another quote from the ceremony, which reflected why so many people of different ideologies attended and watched the inauguration. He stated that the ceremony was, “Not a celebration of victory, but a celebration of democracy.

It was just as miraculous to see those who were so disheartened by the election results participating in this moment. We should not allow disenfranchisement to lead to an attempt to scrap the entire political structure, or to stifle the millennial generation, or any group, into inaction. The value and scope of difference was embodied in our experience at the event itself. The people around us in the 12th Street section spoke many languages, were of many races, and among them there many different reactions to the figures that appeared on the jumbotrons. They were not afraid to boo, to cheer, or to comment as the proceedings continued. But they were there, all together in the non-ticketed section with thousands of others. The great diversity in age, gender, race, and political leaning provided an incredible opportunity to watch reactions in real time. Each, in their support or protest, was participating in this system and was driven to stand with us in an understanding of the importance of the ceremony.

The protest marches and rallies in response to plans of the administration that have continued well over a week past inauguration are further proof of this devotion to the democratic system. We carry the notion that our voices are heard when they are raised, and that together we have the power to generate change.

Beneath the scopes of snipers, under the eyes of many watchful military men and women, and with law enforcement on every corner, we witnessed a peaceful transfer of power like most of the world has never known. Beneath the shroud of divisions and conflict – both military and ideological – we see growth in the American democracy and a desire to make its tenets and freedoms stronger to give voice to those who were not heard in this election. The core values of a democratic system are still and always worth fighting for, and we can fight to make our actions better reflect those goals and values. We can only grow forward into our democracy, and not away from it.