As we approach the swearing in of a new president, I find myself remembering wistfully the last new president inauguration.
Eight years ago, I was working for a maternal health non-profit in New York City. After eight years of an anti-choice president, we were excited for the country to go in a different direction, one that would be better for women, their bodies, and their health. The day after Election Day 2008 was a chipper day in the office, with everyone thrilled and excited for the future. Inauguration Day was no different. Our IT guy had spent half the previous day figuring out how we could watch the inauguration live on TV. We celebrated with cake and prosecco in the office, gathering around the small TV set to watch the procession and swearing in. We returned to the TV a short while later and cheered as the Bushs and Cheneys left the White House, one by helicopter and the other by van.
Eight years ago was completely different, both for me and for America: I was a new college graduate naïve to the intricacies of the world; it was a time when Presidents were accepted as legitimate whether agreed with or not; there was a sense of possibility and hope; it was before the Recession showed its breadth, before I was part of a layoff that, like many in my generation, left me jobless and back with my parents.
Like many New Yorkers, the most recent election did not result in my preferred outcome and I am thus not looking forward to this inauguration; not surprising, as this election has been particularly divisive. To be sure, stakes are always high when choosing the U.S. President, but this election saw attacks and allegations that brought emotions to a new pitch, guaranteeing this election a special mention in history books of the future.
While this Inauguration Day is an unwelcomed day for many, it is ironically also what makes America great: we are a democracy with a long history of peaceful transfers of power. We accept that when a candidate reaches the requisite 270 Electoral College votes, that candidate will be sworn in as President; and we know that if we are displeased, we can vote out the president in 4 years and he will relinquish power. This peaceful transfer of power allows the American system of democracy to succeed regardless of who is elected.
While I may not be proud of the man taking office, I am proud of the system that chose him. Therefore, despite my reservations about the real estate mogul turned reality TV star turned politician, I will accept him as President without reservation. Now is his chance to prove himself worthy.