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Good luck, Mr. President.
That isn’t sarcasm. It is a sincere wish for Joe Biden as he begins his tenure as the 46th president of the United States.
And, as far as I can tell, it is the only truly patriotic response to a change in administrations.
Joe Biden is now our president. As were Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush.
Watching those on the right announce “#NotMyPresident” on social media is as silly as it was when Democrats did the same during the tenures of Trump and Bush. I can only assume these were the same people who, as children, crossed their arms and sulked when they didn’t get their way.
If James Woods posts an Instagram picture holding Biden’s severed head — as Kathy Griffin did with Trump — then I will know we are lost in the land of tit-for-tat. And that would be a shame.
There is a proud tradition amongst presidents — one Trump has reportedly continued — of leaving notes in the “Resolute” desk for their successors. George H.W. Bush said it most succinctly to Bill Clinton: “Your success is now our country’s success.”
That’s really what transitions are all about.
During the political season, we hear incessant declarations that people will “move to Canada” if their preferred candidate doesn’t win. It is akin to the proverbial child who takes their ball and goes home if others do not acquiesce to their demands.
But America is 244 years old. It’s time to grow up.
A mature nation is able to accept change. There are 74 million Americans likely disappointed with Biden’s inauguration. After all, he was not their choice to lead the nation.
Yet, as sometimes happens in life, they didn’t get their desired outcome. They now stand in the shoes that Hillary Clinton’s boosters wore four long years ago. Many members of the latter group had a visceral reaction to Trump’s 2016 election.
We saw a microcosm of that phenomenon here in Maine years back and today. After Gov. Paul LePage moved into the Blaine House, activists plastered their vehicles with “61%” stickers and disavowed him as “their” governor. This past week saw some deranged person painted “kill Mills” on state park property, taking political differences with the current governor to an unhealthy place.
We need to find a way to overcome this tribalism. Maybe Biden’s transition into office is the time to do so.
Republicans prevented Obama from appointing Merrick Garland — now the new attorney general-in-waiting — to the Supreme Court. In a way, it was a “tat” for the “tit” of Democrats — including Joe Biden — “borking” President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork.
Each side took their pound of flesh by stopping one of the other side’s “well qualified” Supreme Court nominees.
Let’s call things even and move on.
We can wish Biden luck and simultaneously oppose those policies we believe wrongheaded. That is the beauty of America. We don’t require oaths of allegiance to individuals; instead, we promise to support the Constitution. We don’t ask that “God save the President-as-King”; we instead beseech Him to save the United States.
And, over the past several decades, as one president has given way to another, those stepping aside have done so with honor and dignity, recognizing their newly-inaugurated successor takes up a great challenge and responsibility. They become our president, whether we supported their candidacy or not.
Inaugural addresses — including Biden’s — have become paeans to unity and togetherness. It is up to each of us to make them more than mere words.
So, Biden is now our president. His success is the country’s success. We wish him well, and we stand ready to correct him when wrong.
Good luck. And may God save these United States.
Michael Cianchette is a Navy reservist who served in Afghanistan. He is in-house counsel to a number of businesses in southern Maine and was a chief counsel to former Gov. Paul LePage.