Election Day is the day we Americans congratulate ourselves on the robustness of our democracy, the day the world's democratically elected leaders and dictators alike congratulate the President-elect and pledge to move forward. For at least a week or so, hope and bipartisanship reign. (Well, sometimes.)
But any two-bit dictator can hold elections. Even Zimbabwe held elections.
No, the real celebration of American democracy is Inauguration Day. For more than two hundred years, through wars, political scandals, brutally partisan campaigns and national tragedies, outgoing Presidents have seen their successors sworn in, and have quietly slipped back into their roles as mere citizens.
On January 20, 2009, George W. Bush will do the same.