Today, in a ceremony as old as the Republic, President Donald Trump will begin his his first term by taking the oath of office. For more than 200 years, this pledge has sealed the transfer of power and the wishes of Americans as expressed every four years at the ballot box. It is a hallmark of our democratic system.
In taking this oath, the President affirms his loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. Whatever his personal feelings, party loyalty or religious convictions, he or she is bound to follow the provisions of these fundamental laws. Should a President fail in this duty, he or she, like other government officials, can be impeached and removed from office.
From the beginning, the United States has been, in the words of John Adams, the second U.S. president, a "government of laws and not of men."
By subordinating political power to the rule of law, Americans have ensured the protection of their rights and the survival of their freedom. As President George Washington said at his first inauguration, "the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government [democracy] are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, and finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."
Inauguration Day is more than the swearing in of an elected leader. It is a process and a spirit. It is democracy in action.