The Valdosta Daily Times
Perhaps one of the greatest achievements of representative government has been demonstrated in recent pages of this newspaper.
Photographs have illustrated newly elected and re-elected public officials taking their oaths of office.
While we often take such tranquil scenes as mundane, these photos are arguably more impressive for what they lack.
They are not accompanied by articles of how a local official seized power in a bloody coup nor a story of how an incumbent official refused to leave office. There have been no headlines of violence or pictures of strife in the transfer of power, but these photographs of our elected officials taking office are no less important.
Perhaps just as important, possibly more so, than our right to vote is our elected officials accepting the outcome of an election. The peaceful transfer of power is one of the chief hallmarks of a successful representative government.
Each ousted official quietly leaving office and each newly elected official taking an oath to uphold his or her duties demonstrates a tenet of American democracy on a local, state or national scale that goes back to the nation’s early days of George Washington’s refusal to seek a third term as president and, of paramount importance, President John Adams stepping down after losing a bid for a second term to his chief political adversary Thomas Jefferson.
So, at this time of a local changing of the elected guard, as past officials leave office, as new ones enter, and as some incumbents renew their oaths, we take a moment to thank departing officials for their services, pray that new and remaining officials lead our region well, and appreciate the power and importance of a peaceful transfer of power.