Passing of the Torch
The inauguration of a new president is, in essence, a peaceful passing of the torch from one administration to the next. It demonstrates to not only our country’s own government and citizens, but to the world, that we have legitimately recognized our next president. It is a day filled with symbols that to some may seem antiquated and unnecessary, but are central to communicating that crucial message. From the Congressional gifts to the ceremonial stroll to the White House, each part of the day reinforces the image of a new Commander-in-Chief, and the nation coalescing around them.
You Win Some, You Lose Some
Traditionally, the inauguration marks an important moment no matter what side of the aisle you are on. I first experienced this following the 2004 presidential election in which President George W. Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry, for whom I had the honor of working. My first foray into a major political race, the loss was devastating. Watching Kerry’s concession speech from a bar in downtown Washington, D.C. appropriately, the morning after Election Day, I clearly remember thinking, how could something I worked so hard for end like this? Inauguration was not something I was looking forward to.
However, when the day came, I found myself struck by the gravity of the moment, and inspired that our country could seemingly come together after a hard fought battle.
A New Future
In 2008, I was lucky to be on the other side of the victory, helping to elect our first African-American president in Barack Obama, and was ecstatic to attend his inauguration. Even with temperatures below freezing and the purple tunnel of doom fiasco (shoutout to my fellow purple ticket holders!), I will not soon forget being part of that historical moment.
As a staffer on the campaign, it brought everything full circle, and allowed us all to see what our collective hard work could achieve. I was thrilled to be able to replicate that feeling in 2012, when I served as the Deputy Director of Strategic Research for the campaign in Chicago and helped reelect the President.
A Healing Nation
While the pandemic precluded much of the in-person celebrating typical of the inauguration, I hope those who worked tirelessly on the campaign take pleasure in the immense role they have played in our nation’s history. We won’t soon forget a ceremony marked by masks, social distancing and American flags in place of the usual crowds, but more importantly, the swearing in of our first woman, first African-American and first South Asian Vice President.
Amid the chaos that has defined 2020, and the start of 2021, above all, the inauguration gave me hope – that we can start anew, that the nation can begin to heal and that our government can better reflect the people it represents. As our 46th President so eloquently put it, “This is America’s Day. This is democracy’s Day.”