What would the founding fathers think?
Inauguration Day for our president is a day for all citizens of the United States to stand up and be proud, regardless of party or political persuasion. The great experiment called democracy continues to flourish, to the benefit of all that call themselves Americans.
It was the 57th inauguration of a president, with President Barack Obama being the 44th president to serve. All have been a peaceful transition of power or a peaceful continuation of power, something that is very unusual in most countries around the world.
The Constitution that we talk about so casually continues to serve as the guiding force of this country after being written way back in 1787. In those 225 years it has only been amended 27 times. By contrast, France has had 14 different constitutions during that same period.
As infuriating as they sometimes seem, the rules governing the House and Senate largely remain the same as they did at the beginning of this country. The ceremony of the inauguration brings individuals of both parties together in a symbolic demonstration that we have one leader, one president, just as we have for hundreds of years.
It seems today like our government is so partisan that it is unable to perform its duties, but this isn’t the first time we have found ourselves in this situation. In fact, it was during the term of our very first president that our country found itself in gridlock with Alexander Hamilton as Treasury Secretary.
The arguments of that time were over how to pay the debt left from the Revolutionary War and about how big the federal government should be. Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?
I would like to think that our Founding Fathers would say to us that we need to compromise and find common ground. Our very Constitution was the product of such compromise.
Many of our amendments, including the 2nd Amendment under so much scrutiny today, were the result of compromise. Even the location of our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., was the result of finding the middle ground between Southern and Northern lawmakers.
Many, but not all, of our Founding Fathers would be proud of where our country has come. On Monday, we inaugurated, for the second time, a black president. It was 50 years after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. That speech was given 100 years after Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation.
We hold our Founding Fathers up in ways that they might dispute. Hopefully some of the leadership shown during those early years will manifest itself during our challenges today.
Our challenges call for great leadership, forward thinking, compromise and an overwhelming desire to put this great county first, over self and party.
We can only pray that, generations from now, our descendants will look back and say that this was a time of great and selfless leadership. If we fail to make the hard choices now, the coming generations’ view of our stewardship of the American Dream will be very different from the way we reverently remember our Founding Fathers.