As President’s Day and presidential primaries are upon us one might ponder whom would President George Washington support in the 2016 presidential election? The answer is found in his famous Farewell Address given Sept. 19, 1796, just prior to his leaving the presidency. In his usual stately manner as the father of this great nation he warned posterity of possible pitfalls that could undermine or destroy this great experiment in liberty. His warnings may well be timelier 210 years later as we near his birthday Feb. 22.
In strong terms he asked that we avoid debt. He said: “As a very important source of strength and security cherish public credit… use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasion of expense… [Use the] time of peace, to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.”
Today our national debt exceeds $19 trillion — the highest in our history — 9 trillion of which from the Obama Administration alone in seven years. Debt resolvement is the most serious issue of our country today, akin to national survival. Obviously neither party has taken Washington’s advice. Presently the debt per taxpayer is $158,902. We are spending our way into oblivion (See USDebtClock.org). This issue has not been vented in any of the presidential debates thus far. Rand Paul (now withdrawn from the race) sponsored a bill to audit the Federal Reserve, a necessary step in curbing runaway debt. Ted Cruz cosponsored it. Basically Democrats do not consider this a problem and most Republican candidates give but lip service to it.
Washington plead with the nation to keep religion and morality strong. He said: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” The Founding Fathers never supported the notion of separation of religion and government — only the separation of an organization of religion from government. Basically both parties work for removal of religion from government but Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee (now withdrawn from the race) and Marco Rubio did work for the evangelical vote in Iowa.
Our first president also had advice with respect to how we should deal with foreign nations. He advised that our commercial policy “should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences…diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce but forcing nothing.” This is a far cry from the bullying tactics we’ve too often employed the last 118 years. Today we have troops in over 32 nations deployed in over 900 bases.
But the warning about foreign aid was especially good. Washington basically told us that gift giving in foreign affairs is a good way to be universally hated. He said it placed us “in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more.” Today there is hardly a nation in the world that does not have its hand out and when, after once giving, the amount is reduce or terminated we are hated all the more for it. Paul would fade it.
Washington warned against the origin of “combinations and associations” whose intent was to suppress the desires of the majority in favor of the minority. He called them artificial power factions. We call them special interest groups. What would he say upon learning that a third of the cabinet of every president since Herbert Hoover belonged to the semi-secret Council on Foreign Relations as does either the president or vice president of every administration including Barack Obama’s? No candidate dares speak out against this organization by name, Ted Cruz gets closest, “the Washington Cartel.”
Such factions, he said, “May answer popular ends and become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government….” The antidote for this, Washington explained, was “to resist with care the spirit of innovation” upon basic constitutional principles or premises no matter how flowery, appealing or “specious the pretext.” President Barack Obama is the best example that we have had of “specious the pretext” and Donald Trump the second.
Washington worried about posterity not holding their elected officials strictly to the limits imposed by the Constitution. He knew many would seek to undermine that document by twisting it to give power they could not acquire without the distortion. Sound familiar? He said: “But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.” Today much of what the federal government does is not even mentioned in the Constitution. Ted Cruz is the “Washington Cartel’s” most hated presidential candidate because he is constitutionally based.
But freedom fighters are not likely to be popular, Washington continues: “Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.” One need not look far for the tools and dupes, they seem to characterize most of the presidential candidates.
To read more of Dr. Harold Pease’s weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.