How Coolidge Heals Our Political Divide

November 14, 2016

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President Calvin Coolidge prepares to vote by mail on October 30, 1924. Photo Courtesy of the Vermont Historical Society.

The wild ride of the 2016 presidential election has concluded, and, in January 2017, for the third time this century, the transition of power between America’s two major parties will take place. After such a difficult and rancorous campaign it is important to pause and reflect on the unique and singular blessing we share of living in the greatest democracy in the history of the world. In America, we settle our scores at the ballot box, and the smooth operation of that system has now been reaffirmed.

In his work The Price of Freedom, President Calvin Coolidge wrote, “There is no reason for Americans to lack confidence in themselves or their institutions. Let him who doubts them look about him. Let him consider the power of his country, its agriculture, its industry, its commerce, its development of the arts and sciences, its great cities, its enormous wealth, its organized society, and let him remember that all this is the accomplishment of but three centuries. Surely we must conclude that here is a people with a character which is not to be shaken.”

No matter whom one voted for, at the end of the day we are all Americans. Our destiny is one. President Calvin Coolidge understood that. Democracy is a rough and tumble system, as mercurial as it is stolid. We must remember to be, as was President Coolidge, both gracious in defeat and humble in victory.

And then we must get back to the work of shaping a more perfect union, secure in the knowledge that, as President Coolidge said, “here is a people with a character which is not to be shaken.”

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