Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The Peaceful Transfer of Power
My paternal grandparents were on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Grandpa was a Republican, Grandma was a Democrat. They mutually agreed to abstain from voting because their votes would merely cancel each other out.
One election Grandpa sneaked downtown and voted for his Republican candidate. Grandma found out minutes before the polls closed. She ran down the street, clutching her skirt, and reached the polling booth just in time to cast her ballot for the Democratic candidate—to annul Grandpa's subterfuge. You gotta love democracy.
Honduras just experienced a coup. Iran's recent election leaves everyone wondering. Don't get me started on North Korea, Burma, China . . .
I keep recalling the images of George W. Bush showing Barack H. Obama around the White House. The country was polarized; the divide seems to get worse every election. It takes no great stretch of the imagination to wonder if one party might someday refuse to hand power over to another.
Yet hand over they do. Argue all you want about righteousness, the Constitution, and the rule of law, it took character for Bush to show Obama his new quarters, his new office; for Bush to make Obama's transition as smooth as possible; for Bush to say, in effect, "I disagree with you, boy-oh-boy I disagree with you, nevertheless I hand the reigns of power over to you."
Even though I consider Bush to be the worst president in American history, I take my hat off to him for making the transfer of power look easy. He was commander-in-chief of the most stunningly invincible military force the planet has ever known, yet he said, to the head of the rival party, "Here, it's yours."
And only because the majority of the population wanted him to. Go figure.