More Than a Game

The orderly transition from one administration to another highlights something sturdy about the U.S.–Just a few days ago, Democrats and Republicans were at each other like long-sworn enemies. Then came the election and as soon as the winner was declared we became one country. John McCain’s concession speech began a process which was continued by President Bush, an American attitude beyond petty concerns, and heralding a spirit meant to signal that underneath our differences we know how to unite.
I was a child in a French Lycee when I first heard of the transition from one president to another. The teacher,a French patriot, mocked it, deriding the need for the process. That may be the view of the uninformed, but now thanks to television, a smooth orderly,peaceful transition will be seen in many countries, hopefully a symbol of democracy.
One could be cynical and say it is a game, that in McCain, Bush or Obama’s case putting on a friendly front is in their interest. But those of us who have watched U.S.politics a long time realize it is more than a front. It is not a game, but a symbol of the American system, a system where the majority may rule, but do so within limits, within the rule of law, within traditions, with respect for the popular will and regards for the constitution. That is how power is transferred in the United States,through a system based on the ballot box. Ultimately, of course, it hails democracy as the voice of the people,and reminds us that while we believe in the separation of church and state,our system is not devoid of the practice of basic spiritual values, values that guarantee what we hold dear.