OUR VIEW: With malice toward none and charity toward all

On Jan. 20 Donald John Trump took the oath of office that made him officially and unequivocally the 45th President of the United States of America.

As a story in today’s issue of The Times indicates, a number of people from the Bayou Region were in Washington D.C. to witness the event, including Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove.

We are pleased to be able to report on our neighbors who are now eyewitnesses to history. Like those of our neighbors who attended inaugurations of the presidents who came before Trump, these folks had the privilege of being present for a momentous event, one that defines who we are as a nation.

As E.D. White Catholic High junior Sarah Hubbell pointed out in words echoed by other attendees, those who were there to witness actually are now part of the event, and so are participants in the history.

We tried in our coverage to avoid partisan references. This was not in any way meant to deny the existence of divisions that still fester, or to ignore the fact that here, as in other parts of the state and country, there were many people whose choice was or would have been a different one. The diversity of opinion on this election appears more pronounced than during any other, because more people have access to technology that allows their voices to carry those opinions to the eyes of their neighbors and the world.

This is not to convey any endorsement of Trump’s candidacy, and if the election’s outcome were different we would provide the same type of local coverage in the same type of vacuum.

Rather it is to convey endorsement of the sacred nature of the presidency itself, and the unique effect that the transfer of office has on the American people.

It is only natural that partisans might see the past weekend in Washington as a celebration of Donald Trump. But it was not at its core a celebration of Trump, any more than it would have been a celebration of any other candidate had there been different outcome.

The celebration in Washington D.C. which our friends neighbors and elected officials took part in was one of the American people, of the system of government we have kept in place for more than two centuries. Granted that’s a short span of time on the overall line of history, but it’s certainly long enough to be worth note.

Donald Trump’s victory was in November. The victory on Jan. 20 was one of the American people.

It was a victory of the documents that are the embodiment of this nation’s heart and soul that are in the National Archives.

When Trump took the oath of office his hand was placed on two bibles. One was his own, which had never been used to swear in a president before. The other was used by three presidents, Trump included. The other two were Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama.

It was Lincoln who presided over a nation so divided that it could not hold together, and literally burst during the Civil War.

It was Obama whose election marked the great progress we had made since that time.

It is Trump who now faces the task of presiding over a nation also divided, and who now has the challenge of unifying a nation split not with force of arms, as was Lincoln’s, but divided on ideology and principles. He has spoken words indicating a desire for that to occur, and he now has the opportunity to do so with actions.

To make that happen it is incumbent on all of us to proceed “with malice toward none, and charity toward all,” to quote the words of Lincoln himself.

It is also incumbent upon all of us to wish President Trump good luck in steering the ship of state into places where as many Americans as possible will benefit. When we disagree, we must count ourselves not as obstructionist partisans but loyal opposition.

The opportunity for all of us on a continuing basis, no matter our politics or ideologies, to make our nation strong through underlying unity is how we can be true to the traditions we have just witnessed. •