Tuesday, February 23, 2016

George Washington...time traveler.

                                                              -- Part Two--

About halfway through Washington's farewell address it starts to get spooky. It's as if you have stumbled onto something written by a time traveler. It's like old George somehow was teleported from Mount Vernon into  21st century America, took a look around, then teleported back to 1796 and started wearing out about five quills, furiously scribbling out this amazing speech. How else to explain the timeliness of his warnings?

After warning his future countrymen against enemies of the Union and the pernicious influence of factions, he then ventures into the issue of the bureaucratic state:

" It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one and thus to create a real despotism."

Yeah, no kidding!!

Concerning the place of religion and morality among a free nation Washington offers this nugget:

" Let it be simply 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? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion...reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles."

Then, our founding father begins to sound exactly like a regular old father when speaking about the subject of finances:

" As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible...avoiding the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned."

Something tells me that the time traveling Washington never caught a glimpse of our debt clock, because surely the sum of 18 trillion would have literally killed him.

When he finally turns his attention to foreign policy, he begins to get quite worked up:

" Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence( I conjure you to believe me,fellow-citizens), the jealously of a free people ought to be constantly awake.

Whoa, settle down George! But, he wasn't finished. He proceeds to plead with us to avoid entangling alliances...especially with the Europeans:

" Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies. Hence therefore it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics."

Vicissitudes, indeed Mr. President! Substitute Israel or any other Middle Eastern nation for "Europe" in the above paragraph and you've essential got Rand Paul's foreign policy!

George Washington was no saint. He was a slave owner, and as President sometimes failed to follow his own advice. But, he was a great man. One of the things that made him great was that rarest of traits in great public figures...genuine humility. When listening to the various candidates for president speak on the campaign trail, I long to hear from anyone of them something approaching this:

" In reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest."

A true Patriot will find it difficult to read that paragraph without a lump in the throat. God bless you, Mr. President. May we be worthy of the nation born of your tireless efforts. And may those who aspire to lead us in this day learn from the matchless example of your character.