I am always struck by the solemn ritual of an outgoing president ushering in their successor. Even following the most contentious elections, once the votes are counted and a winner declared, both candidates come together for something far greater than either of them: The will of the people.
This has been the cornerstone of our American democracy since the very first peaceful transfer of power between two parties in 1800. And this is what has made our political system the envy of democracies around the world – a peaceful transfer of presidential power that represents the heart of democratic values.
What makes this tradition so awe-inspiring is that it cannot happen without the willingness of all the participants, and that includes us. As voters, we select who we want as our president and hold our leaders accountable to ensure a fair election. On January 20, the presidential inauguration brings together all three branches of our government, with the Chief Justice (judicial branch) administering the oath of office to the President-elect (executive branch). The ceremony takes place at the Capitol, where Congress, our legislative branch, meets. This is the day that an ordinary citizen becomes a President, and a president can return to becoming an ordinary citizen.
It is indeed a tribute to our forefathers and foremothers that even after more than 200 years, our election has consistently led to a peaceful transition of power to the successor. This has ensured a continuous line of leadership for our country and has provided stability even during turbulent times.
And like democracy itself, it cannot be taken for granted.
We started the Tides Healthy Democracy Fund as a proactive strategy to strengthen our democracy. Tides partners with social justice donor networks and movement leaders to foster a healthier, more inclusive, and more reflective democracy by supporting year-round civic engagement that empowers local communities and provides information and access to allow every citizen the opportunity to vote. This year, we saw a record-setting number of voter turnout across several voting blocs, including low-propensity voters. This engagement and participation is fundamental to a healthy democracy; it is something to celebrate.
We thank all of those who waited patiently across the country to make their voices heard, and the many mail carriers, poll workers and others on the front line who did a phenomenal job protecting and upholding our democratic process. We are proud to have supported the efforts of those committed to lifting more voices. As we move through these next months, we look to our leaders to safeguard the democratic process that we all value so deeply and, on January 20, for our leaders and country to come together to continue the hard work of building a country that supports opportunity, respect, and empowerment of all.