Thursday, January 21, 2021

My First Presidential Transition in Public Service

Just like that we have a new President, a new Vice President, and a whole new slate of nominees for key positions like the Secretary of State. All true defenders of democracy regardless of whether they voted for or against the President understand that a peaceful transition of power between political opponents has been one of the foundational principles undergirding our whole system of government for over 200 years. (The inauguration ceremony even included a recorded message from former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama!)

We members of the Foreign Service swear (or affirm) an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America. In other words, we do not swear our allegiance to a particular political party or political leadership. That is why although certain (generally high-level) government appointments change between Presidential administrations, the overwhelming majority of our executive branch is staffed by apolitical public servants. In my view, that's a wonderful thing.

There are plenty of other parts of government devoted to partisan politics, but the crucial work of defending our national security, protecting U.S. citizens, and advancing U.S. interests around the world continues regardless of who is in power at any given moment. Every Senior Foreign Service member can look back over a career of faithful service under Republicans and Democrats, political appointees and nonpartisan bureaucrats, people they supported personally and people they didn't. But at the end of the day, we all work for the United States and its people. I look forward to continuing to do so for many years more.

If you're interested, you can see my post from the early days of this blog almost four years ago with the swearing in of my A-100 (i.e., class of new Foreign Service Officers) here. It includes the full text of the oath we took when we joined the Foreign Service and a lovely photo with our class mentor, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield (who has now been nominated to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations).

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