Sunday, February 22, 2009
The genius of Washington
Today is George Washington’s birthday. Most of us, over Obama Man's objections, recognize George Washington as the first President of the United States. However, reading over some of his writings and speeches pointed out the genius that he was.
First, he refused the superfluous honors those in his time tried to bestow. He decided that the title, “Mr. President,” was good enough. He could have been President for life, but stepped aside after two terms, setting up the notion that the United States would not be ruled over by some “great leader.” Washington at first refused his Presidential salary, but relented when those around him pointed out that if there was no Presidential salary, only rich men could be President.
There were other things that Washington did to establish the United States and the office of President of the United States. However, his words in his farewell address to the nation are haunting. Washington warned of sectional factions between the north and south, and those very factions led to the Civil War. Washington warned against parties and how the parties and their interests would slow down government progress on problems that needed solving. His words rang true with things like Iran-Contra, the Clinton Impeachment and the like in modern times.
Perhaps more importantly, Washington argued that the United States should have commerce with other nations but stay out of their business. He argued that the more we dealt with conflicts among other nations, the more independence the United States gave away. The actions of the United States over the past century or so makes Washington look like a prophet. American blood and treasure have been spent in places most Americans have never heard of over the past century, being it the fields of France or the caves of Afghanistan.
Washington stated: “…that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.”
In other words, Washington saw that the United States could spend its blood and treasure on behalf of some other people in another nation-state and get nothing but grief in return. The modern problems of Iraq and Afghanistan seem to succinctly fit Washington’s words.
Of course, modern scholars and politicians will say that Washington’s ideas are naive in the time we live in. Perhaps they have good arguments for such a position. However on our first President’s birthday, perhaps we should take a moment to pause and think about his genius and how he warned us to be practicable and not involve ourselves with the world’s business but instead concentrate upon our own. VUI is not saying Washington was right. All we ask is that you take a moment to think about his position and imagine how things would be if the United States had kept itself of other people’s business over the past century. People always talk about the Founding Fathers in political debates. But, if they want to be historically accurate, a Founding Father such as Washington would not do anything like our current leaders do. Washington was a genius.