After the most contentious election in American history between the two most highly unpopular candidates in American history, Donald J. Trump was elected president. Today, he takes office.
That comes with celebration for his populist advocates, cautious optimism and not-insignificant-trepidation for conservatives, and apparently, outright panic for those who voted against him. But here are some thoughts that can bring us all together on Inauguration Day.
1. America Is Durable. If you think this is the end of America, that’s because you know nothing about American history. America survived a revolution, an invasion from Great Britain in which the White House was burned, the Civil War, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the chaos of the 1960s, the destruction of Nixon and Carter, 9/11, the Great Recession, among others. We’ve gone through some pretty rough times. America isn’t in the midst of one of those rough times right now. We’ll survive someone you don’t like being president, too.
2. You Live In America. If you’re deeply worried today, understand that your worries are likely wildly overstated. You live in the most powerful country in world history, the most prosperous country in world history, in a time of relative peace and of absolute prosperity. Yes, American faces threats from without. Yes, America faces significant problems within, particularly a disintegrating social fabric. But you live in a free country. Those of us on the right thought that Barack Obama was an awful president, and that he did great damage to the country – but we still kissed our children at night, we still (mostly) went to work, we still attended church and synagogue and mosque, we still led pretty fantastic lives.
3. If You’re Angry About Inauguration Day, That’s Because We Screwed Up The Founders’ System. The point of the Constitutional system was to make the federal government powerful enough to protect the country but not powerful enough to run your life. That meant that while Americans cared deeply about who became president, it didn’t carry the same weight as the presidency today, which has become a quasi-dictatorial office. If you’re truly concerned about Donald J. Trump’s presidency, perhaps it’s worth considering whether we need a federal government that is, in Rick Perry’s words, insignificant in your life.
4. The President Is Your Servant, Not The Other Way Around. Donald J. Trump is not owed your love or your fealty. He is owed the baseline loyalty we show to legitimate government officials – he is your president and mine – but that doesn’t mean he’s our Daddy or our Great Leader. He is a public servant. He serves us, and he owes us fealty to the Constitution, to our freedoms. As citizens, it is our job to hold him accountable. And Americans will do so, as they always have.
So celebrate today. Inauguration Day is always a wonderful day, particularly if you’re excited about the person taking office -- and even if you’re not all that excited about the person taking office. That’s because America is a wonderful country, the finest in the history of man, and that won’t change today.