EVERY FOUR years, inauguration day gives residents of the United States a new beginning.

Whether a president takes office for the first time, or begins a second term, the inaugural ceremony is meant to represent the start of something new. Wednesday’s inauguration could be that fresh start in a badly divided nation.

The United States should be united behind government efforts to do hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccinations. We also ought to be looking for ways to revive the nation’s economy, create jobs and restore some sense of normalcy.

Regardless of who occupies the White House, those should be universal goals.

Unfortunately, since elections are hotly contested, many people consider themselves either winners or losers when a presidential term begins. Even though it is in everybody’s interest for the nation to do well, it is not unusual to hear people hoping that a president “fails.” That attitude defies common sense.

This doesn’t mean every American has to agree with a sitting president on everything. There are going to be different ideas on economic strategies, taxes, regulations, law enforcement and foreign policy. Those differences exist even within political parties.

There should, however, be universal support for seeing the nation — seeing our citizens — thrive.

Hate is corrosive. That was true when people expressed their hate for President Donald Trump, it will be true for those who hate President Joe Biden. A person’s most negative emotions and pronouncements say more about them than about the object of their hatred.

So how would the United States look without the most angry and extreme political rhetoric?

It might look a little more like most of our major institutions.

There are divisions and differences of opinions within families. But it is a dysfunctional family indeed where people continuously call each other names or shut down communication entirely.

It would be a toxic workplace if coworkers were to use the same incendiary phrases uttered in some political discussions. Fortunately, people tend to use their internal filters in order to function in most work environments.

So if people can generally avoid injecting that type of poison into family or work life, the same could be done in political discussions.

Engagement in the political process also is necessary. Special interest groups such as the U.S. Small Business Administration, the ACLU, the U.S. Farm Bureau, the NAACP and a host of others do not simply “sit out” for four years when their preferred candidate is not elected. These groups continue to pursue their goals.

Any objective review of presidential history suggests that none of this nation’s leaders was perfect. All of them experienced a mixture of successes and failures. They’ve each had strengths and weaknesses. That’s what it means to be human.

Yet with all our human shortcomings it seems that mankind can rise to meet the biggest of challenges in the worst of times.

It will take all the unity we have to recover from a global pandemic that has brought a wave of social isolation, as well as job losses and business turmoil.

As we pray for and work toward recovery, it would help if the United States can be united in our hope for a better future. We don’t have to agree on everything, but let’s make inauguration day a time when the love of country and respect for our fellow Americans can shine through.

That would be a good start.

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