Inauguration Day marks another successful transition

Published 3:08 pm Tuesday, December 10, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

Today marks the beginning of a new administration leading Kentucky. It is also a day that represents one of the best things about representative democracy: the peaceful transfer of power.

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For most of human history and in most places where humans have lived, the power of leaders has only transferred through violent means — assassinations, military coups and wars were the most common methods of political change.

We are lucky to live in a society where such concepts feel alien and sound like impossibilities. We have had more than 200 years of democracy. There have been plenty of failings by our leaders; America is hardly perfect. But we’ve still had over two centuries of peaceful transfers of power at all levels of government.

Today, power transfers from Gov. Matt Bevin to Gov. Andy Beshear. It marks the 63rd time such a transfer has occurred in Kentucky’s 227 years of existence. In many places around the world, they have only recently managed a peaceful transition successfully; in others, they still live under regimes that only relinquish power if forced to through violent means. For that, we should consider ourselves very lucky.

Many different people help make the power transfer successful each time.

The outgoing governor helps by opening the doors of their administration to the incoming governor, by briefing them on ongoing matters, by setting their successor up for success.

The incoming governor helps by accepting that welcome and assistance, even if they have disagreed strongly with what their predecessor did.

Members of all ranks in the old administration help by continuing to work hard and ensuring continuity of services even as their job security may be in flux.

Residents help by putting aside their political preferences and honestly hoping for the best — for both administrations. Supporters of the old administration help by giving the new administration a chance; supporters of the new administration help by accepting that the old administration accomplished some good things that should be continued, not thrown out with the bathwater.

This was a contentious election for governor, to put it mildly. And unfortunately, bad blood and harmful comments have continued to some extent following the results of the election.

But we are hopeful the negative comments do not go beyond bitterness at losing such a close race. We think both administrations are holding up their end of the democratic bargain, and that Kentucky will once again transition peacefully and successfully, with support for the new leaders from those leaving power; and respect for the departing leaders from those gaining power.