In America, we vote for our president every four years, and after the election, the power of that office is transferred non-violently to the incoming President-elect, unless the current administration was re-elected (maximum of two terms).
As stipulated in an amendment to the US Constitution, the President and Vice President are sworn in at noon on January 20th in the year following the election.
Various traditions are upheld on the day of the president’s inauguration. It is always held in our nation’s capital, and takes place outside instead of behind closed doors. Citizens are welcome to witness the ceremony and the informal parade as long as space in the streets permit, and as long as they retain order and self-discipline.
The incoming President, Vice President and their immediate families arrive at the Capitol steps by car, and customarily walk part of the way to wave and interact with the crowds lining the street. On the evening of the swearing in ceremony, inaugural balls are held throughout the city of Washington, D.C.
The ceremony itself is brief, and consists of both the president and the vice president taking a solemn oath, as directed in our Constitution:
Oath of Office for President of the United States
US Constitution, Article II, Section 1
Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The Constitution established the national government and its fundamental laws, while guaranteeing certain basic rights for its citizens, which at that time were the white adult males of the population. The current oath of office was passed by Congress in 1884, changing the wording somewhat, and is the same oath that Members of Congress take.
When we take an oath, it is a special moment.
In times of danger in our society, ordinary citizens can perform an arrest, which, not surprisingly, is called a “citizen’s arrest.” The practice dates back to medieval times and allows citizens to hold a suspected felon even without the official right to do so.
If you’re a fan of classic television comedies you may remember the episode in The Andy Griffith Show where Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) tickets Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), and in retaliation Gomer places Barney under citizen’s arrest for making an illegal U-turn. “Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!” If you haven’t seen it, the clip is on YouTube and is considered one of the funniest episodes of that long-running series set in small town America.
If we can perform a citizen’s arrest under extraordinary conditions, then why can’t we take a citizen’s oath as well? These are indeed extraordinary, perilous times, when Donald Trump’s election feels more like we’ve landed in The Twilight Zone than Mayberry, RFD.
Are you ready to be one of America’s new breed of freedom fighters? Are you ready to put your commitment into words and turn the weakness of wish power into the boundless “yes, we will” power? Do you want to help create progress, liberty and justice for all?
If so, then please place your right hand over your heart and say these words: “I [your name] do solemnly affirm that I will create more goodness, more love, more joy, more kindness, and more expansion in my own life, and help others do the same.”
My new book America’s New Breed of Freedom Fighters is now available. Thank you for taking this blog journey with me for the past month leading up to the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.
God bless America—keep us safe from all harm, foreign and domestic.
Are you in? Okay, then put aside the panic, breathe mindfully, and realize this is an incredible opportunity for all of us to “fight” for the freedom and justice we desire.
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