Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Wikipedia states that in 1792, George Washington did not want to run for a second term. He composed a farewell address to the people, but he ended up running and winning. Between 1792 and 1796, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton helped Washington revise the original 1792 draft of the farewell address.
The result was a lengthy tome, read on the floor of the Senate when it reconvened recently. It contains much sagacious advice, even after 217 years, to your presidency and toward a positive legacy.
■ Debt: Washington warned against excessive borrowing and stressed the need for a balanced budget. Each generation must be responsible for its own debts and not pass them on to future generations.
■ Separation of powers: Washington believed that the system of checks and balances (legislative, executive, judicial) set up in the Constitution are essential to prevent a person or group (political party) from taking over the pepublic through manipulation or fiat.
■ Political parties: Washington made the case that the alternate domination of one party over another results in “coinciding efforts to exact revenge on their opponents, and is itself a frightful despotism. The tendency of parties to permanent despotism is because they gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual.”
■ Religion, morality and education: Washington and all the founding fathers were deeply religious. He argued that religious principles promote property, reputation, and life values that are the foundations of justice. He also argued that education is needed to diffuse knowledge throughout the populace because the government needs informed and knowledgeable people.
Washington also favored private ownership of firearms so that the people could quickly form a militia in times of need.
Washington would be aghast if he could see the extent that his dicta have gone awry the last couple of centuries.
Omar M. Campbell