On Inauguration Day tomorrow, like many of you, I will wait to see if we have a peaceful transfer of power or another rip-roaring protest or worse. I know some armchair quarterbacks, really recliner rebels, calling for armed resistance against the new administration that they believe is fraudulent. Other folks I know have hoped and prayed for the day and plan to celebrate it. Despite their opposing points of view, all those folks claim to love their country, and I believe they are sincere.
Some people cut off all the folks with whom they disagree politically. I cannot do that. Throughout the past four years, I have kept my friends and relatives on social media and, pre-pandemic, in my face-to-face interactions. I believe that having only one perspective creates an insulated bubble of sorts; a person can start to believe that the whole world has that perspective. That is why some are shocked at election results contrary to the will of their inner circle. That is about as deep as my political commentary gets. (Analyzing George Orwell’s “1984” and the Thought Police and rewriting history is for another day.)
Should we hold together to inaugurate a new president, I will miss the traditional ceremony. Having watched many of those on television throughout my life, I will remember the familiar things that made up the traditional change of administrations with the huge crowd gathered at the Capitol for the ceremony.
Now, to be honest, one of the first things I analyze is silly. What did everyone wear? The wives of the most powerful men in the free world certainly should be able to wear whatever outfits they see fit, designer or otherwise. They cannot be too flamboyant nor too droll. Most have found the right balance. The men? It is hard to imagine getting a suit wrong, but I scrutinize tie choices and lapel pins also.
I will also miss watching the faces of the outgoing administration. How hard it must be to have a chin up facing cameras recording that response, and how much courage it would take to graciously cede power to a person with different ideas on how to run the country. Republicans and Democrats alike have had to do it, had to hand over their work of four years or eight years to someone else who may plow up that ground. That would be painful.
A work acquaintance had reserved tickets for the inauguration before the Jan. 6 protest and resulting closure of the event to most of the public. She canceled those plans and will watch the ceremony from her home. I am sorry that the usual crowd of patriotic Americans like her will not be at the inauguration, gathered to share in our democratic process.
And that, I think, is what I will miss most — the sharing in our democratic process. In four short years, the bottom fell out of our middle ground, and people believe we cannot work together anymore. I do not believe we are too far gone to hold together, but I will admit that we seem to be intent on killing the goose that laid the golden American egg.
Since I became a praying Christian, I have prayed for all my presidents — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yes, they all were my presidents because I am a citizen. We must honor the process.
So, I will be watching the ceremony tomorrow to see if 20,000 National Guard troops are enough to ensure the orderly transfer of power and whether domestic terrorists will show up there and in other parts of the country. Those who would destroy others’ lives and liberty are not patriots and do not have America’s best interests at heart.
Pray for peace. If this inauguration is not what you envisioned, then get to work. In three brief years we will be in another election cycle.
If you will be celebrating, be gracious. Help resurrect the middle ground. God knows we need it.
Arlene Neal will be featured in a live interview on Zoom on Thursday, June 21, at noon and will answer questions from the public about her new book, “What Came to Me,” which is a compilation of 45 of her favorite columns. To register for the interview, sponsored by Catawba Valley Community College’s Redhawk Publications, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org