Steve “Stef” Stefanides
January 20th will mark the “peaceful” transition of power here in our nation as Donald J. Trump is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. The world will be focused on not only the events of the day, but on the actions to be undertaken by this new administration and the American people.
For about two years now the nation has been embroiled in one of the most contentious debates in modern day politics. However, at noon on January 20, 2017 the job of campaigning is officially finished and the weight of the responsibility as the leader of the free world will sit squarely on his shoulders as the new President.
History shows that it took several days for the news to reach George Washington at his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia regarding confirmation of his election in 1789. I’m sure that Washington would be in awe at the world of instant communication we live in today and the technology available to our citizens.
That first inauguration of an American president was held in New York City when President George Washington was sworn into office on April 30, 1789. At the time, New York City served as our fledgling nation’s capital.
On July 16, 1790 Congress declared the city of Washington in the District of Columbia to assume the role as the official capital of the United States. President Washington appointed a committee to work with French engineer Pierre-Charles L’Enfant to design the new capital. President Thomas Jefferson would be the first American president to be sworn into office in Washington, D.C.
Our nation sprung from the brilliance of our Founding Fathers and the safeguards they wove into our institutional documents. Those documents continue to this day to insure our representative republic, and its democratic principles continue to serve us well.
The events of recent history might tend to have some believe that we are faltering as a nation, however one must only look back on history to some of the challenges we have endured as a nation and a people to understand the resilience of the American experience.
In the early 1800s we saw the contentious debate between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. The issue of states’ rights versus federal power was one which we as a people managed to come to grips with through reasoned thought, careful consideration and consensus.
Later, the attempts by a new class of the very rich to control our economy and take advantage of the working class was another such challenge, at the turn of the century in the early 1900s. Our nation was moving from an agricultural based economy into a major industrial force. As part of that transformation the working class needed protection against unfair labor practices and the potential loss of the American dream.
The passage of anti-trust legislation and the realization that government was responsible for providing a balance for all its citizens, while maintaining an atmosphere where capitalistic enterprises could be successful, was a very important challenge for government. That was, again, a learning exercise for our young nation, requiring serious consideration, debate and consensus amongst the governing bodies.
An analysis of the recent national election showed the nation believed we needed a course correction. It was the voters’ belief that Trump was the best person available to make those needed changes, providing for this seismic shift in the most recent election.
The time has now come to put this election behind us and to move on to the tasks before our country. We have our own set of challenges to deal with, as have other generations when those tests have arisen.
We have an economy to rebuild that should include real job growth, not the anemic numbers we’ve seen. The establishment of a fair and simplified tax code that once again encourages business to invest here in our country, along with the potential for good wages for all that wish to work and be productive members of our society.
A revitalized emphasis on education that focuses on the personal growth of the individual and not just scores on tests. As part of that we need to once again make all Americans believe that they have unlimited potential to do the big things in life and not settle for just getting by or accepting the status-quo.
Respect for each other and for the institutions that have made this nation so special must also be restored. Without the basic foundation of respect of each other, regardless of race, religion or creed, we will fail as a people and our republic will crumble.
The need to reign in the overpowering desire to be “politically correct,” rather than make the hard choices and demand a higher bar be set for our citizens to be responsible for their actions and their lives.
We must also insure our citizens live in a safe environment and the world itself is safe from extremism and tyranny. It is a legacy we must pass on to future generations, as did those in the generations that came before us.
All of these things and more do not revolve solely around the man that will take the oath of office on January 20, but are part of our responsibility as individual citizens. We have been tasked to insure we make those things happen and more, instead of sitting back and whining. We have been charged with that obligation as part of our destiny as Americans.
Let us put away the rhetoric and whining about an election and get on with the responsibilities we have as Americans. If we apply that energy to do positive things and move forward, we truly will leave behind a better America for the next generation.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com