If anyone were to ever ask me to recite the moments I was the most proud to be a resident of the United States, I wouldn’t have any problem coming up with a specific answer.
Until today, there was one moment vividly entrenched in my mind that would qualify as fulfilling that criteria. Now, there’s two.
When I was younger, I was much more passionate about elections and political issues than I am now. While some my age turn into the grumpy “get off my lawn’’ guy, I’ve had some of my fire doused by much of the nonsense and vitriol that I find so distasteful, such as we experienced in the presidential race leading up to Tuesday’s General Election.
In the presidential election of 1992, I had developed quite the distaste for the Democratic nominee Bill Clinton. Us conservatives were bloated with overconfidence after two terms of Ronald Reagan and one of George Bush, who was doomed in 1992 after breaking his pledge during the 1988 election not to raise taxes.
Clinton won the 1992 election by an electoral landslide. I had egg all over my face because I had been fairly outspoken with friends and acquaintances about my thoughts on Clinton, who ironically has grown on me during his post-presidential life. Anyway, in 1992 I woke up the day after the election feeling much the same way Hillary Clinton supporters greeted the day today — bitter, angry, disillusioned, etc.
But, all those feelings went away days later when George Bush and wife Barbara hosted the Clintons for the first time at the White House. I was literally taken back by the grace and humility shown by the outgoing president and first lady. Initially, I think I screamed something at the television in disbelief that someone I respected so much could be such a gracious host to someone I loathed so much. But, those emotions quickly faded and they were replaced by a completely different set of emotions.
I was reminded why we live in such a great country. The peaceful transition of power is something I constantly live in awe of. You know, it’s the “even if you don’t respect the person in the office, you respect the office’’ mentality. The epiphany-like experience that day was a healing, therapeutic experience for me.
Fast forward to today, the day after what many political pundits are calling the greatest upset in our country’s political history, the shoe is on the other ideological foot, but I am offered the same reminder. It’s been reported that President Elect Donald Trump will visit the White House tomorrow where he will be greeted by a gracious President Barack Obama. It’s a scene I’m looking forward to watching.
I stayed up until 3 a.m. this morning so I could view Trump’s acceptance speech live. And then this morning, I watched Clinton’s speech live. The talking heads on television said each candidate delivered their best speech ever. I haven’t been able to view Obama’s speech yet, but his sentiments have been shared with me and I’m told his was of the same tone.
The Bush-Clinton race in 1992 couldn’t hold a candle to the Clinton-Trump race of 2016 in terms of viciousness, and yet the day after the election everyone is moving on and our leaders are honoring the intent of our forefathers by peacefully uniting to facilitate the peaceful transition of power.
It is my sincere hope that those who were devastated by the results of last night’s presidential election can follow in step with our leaders and do the same — do what George and Barbara Bush did in 1992 and what so many others have done throughout our nation’s history. No one needs to leave the country. The sky is not falling. Democracy, as we know it, is not coming to an end anytime soon. There will be a mid-term election in two years and we will elect another president in four years. And, our country will likely do just fine in the meantime.