Amidst this fall’s turning leaves, the presidential candidates are crisscrossing New Hampshire. This once-every-four-year process will culminate with the election of the 44th President of the United States. He or she will assume the office almost 220 years after George Washington, our first President, was sworn in on April 30, 1789.

220 years of orderly and peaceful succession. Even during the tumultuous days before Richard Nixon’s resignation or following the contested election of 2000, I had little doubt that order would prevail, based upon our democratic principles. Given our stability, it’s all too easy to become complacent and assume our experience of the past 220 years is the norm.

Contrast this with so much of the world today: the brutal repression of the Buddhist monks by the government in Myanmar (Burma), Vladimar Putin’s Byzantine maneuvers to retain power in Russia, the equally convoluted dance between President Pervez Musharraf and former premier Benazir Bhutto to construct a power-sharing arrangement for a new civilian government in Pakistan, the continuing instabilities in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, North Korea…

I am grateful to live in this country, with a stable government, where I am free to write of my displeasure to the President or to Congress, where I can march with a protest sign outside of the White House, where I need not be afraid of being carried off in the night and never seen again. I am grateful for the genius of those who codified the principles that underlie our government. We are truly blessed.

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