January 19, 2009 [LINK / comment]

A peaceful transfer of power

Tomorrow's inauguration of Barack Obama is being called historic for a number of reasons, but it is also worthwhile for us to contemplate the "remarkable unremarkableness" of the presidential transition. Given the intense degree of partisan rivalry over the past 14 years, accompanied by some of the most outrageous rhetoric spewed by activists of both parties toward the other sides' leaders, it is amazing to think that all that will be set aside, for this brief moment. Seldom do most Americans appreciate the fact that the most powerful office in the world is being transfered from one political party to another in a peaceful, predictable, and straightforward manner. All the details are decided in advance, and all the rituals are carefully choreographed so that no one gets nervous as a new pair of hands takes control of the steering wheel of the proverbial "ship of state." There will be plenty of soldiers and security officers on hand during the inaugural ceremonies in Our Nation's Capital, but no one even thinks about a coup d'etat taking place, as might well happen in parts of Latin America or elsewhere in the Third World. For that blessed condition, we should thank our lucky stars, or better yet, our Founding Fathers who bequeathed to us a balanced and enduring Constitution, or perhaps even Divine Providence.