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Just moments before he took the oath of office to become America's 44th president, Barack Obama sat down for coffee with America's 43rd president, George W. Bush. KSMU's Jennifer Moore spoke with one expert who compares this peaceful transition to other nations of the world.
Dr. Dennis Hickey, professor of political science at Missouri State University, recently returned from spending six months in Beijing, China, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He said that sometimes, even under authoritarian regimes, there can be a peaceful transition, but not always. Often, he says, members of the outgoing administration are arrested.
In some nations, the whole idea of having an election is viewed as disruptive and leading to turmoil, Hickey said. Some leaders, when they become old, sick or unpopular, are assassinated and then replaced.
Hickey said that by electing Obama, America has shown it does strive to live up to its ideals: that it is a country of equal opportunity, and that anything can happen. He said in many other nations, it would be inconceivable for someone of a minority race to come to the highest office.
Hickey added that he feels Obama's presidency will improve America's standing in the eyes of the world.