No, this isn't another music post. Too many people thinking there's real music out there now. (Kids these days! =P )
No, this is going to be another one of those posts where I discuss politics and history, and Becky will hate it. (She much prefers when I spew a love note in public.) Sorry, my love, but I've been learning things, and now I must vent!
In my post last Saturday, where I was mostly addressing Zeb, he replied with a comment that ended with a few words about our very first President, George Washington. (I mention that in case someone out there thinks our first President was Abe Lincoln or something.) Washington had no party. (Lewis Nicola made a suggestion that Washington become king of a new State, but he was the only one to really make the suggestion. Thus, the idea that Washington was offered to be made king of the United States is a myth. (My source.)) He was unopposed in the election. The framers of our Constitution simply assumed he would take the job, and when he agreed to come out of retirement to take the office, everyone basically said, "Good!" And they left it at that.
Zeb linked a summary to Washington's Farewell Address. It was a nice read, but I wanted to see what was actually said. So I read that, as well. (The man used the word "umbrage" in a sentence without the word "professor" before it! No one speaks (or writes) like that anymore...that I know of.) Having read the actual document and the summary, I have come to the realization that his words fell upon deaf ears...and still do. The House of Representatives stopped reading it back in 1984, but the Senate still reads it on Washington's birthday...and not a single Senator, as far as I can tell, understands a word of it.
But let's back up from our modern day and go all the way back to the election after Washington left office. Washington, having expressed that political parties were a bad idea, was followed by John Adams, a member of the Federalist Party. A member...of the Federalist...Party.
Right. Here's my interpretation of how this went down:
Older, Wiser Parent: See this? This is fire. It burns. Don't touch it. Understand?
Child: Yes, I understand.
Older, Wiser Parent: Are you sure? Because I don't want to see you get burned. If you get burned, it'll hurt. Do you like being hurt?
Older, Wiser Parent: So what won't you do?
Child: I won't touch the fire.
Older, Wiser Parent: Why?
Child: Because it'll burn me, and it'll hurt.
Older, Wiser Parent: Right. Very good.
Child: *immediately puts a hand in the fire and starts screaming in pain*
Older, Wiser Parent: Why'd you do that?!?
Child: I was making sure you were right.
Older, Wiser Parent: ...
Here was a man who'd invested everything he had, including his very life, into the creation of our nation, and then gave his later years into running said nation. On his way out the door, he made a gentle plea, as it were, that those who would follow him to take great care in how they conducted themselves in running the country. Washington had learned from that goofy thing we call EXPERIENCE. And you'd think that these men from another time - men almost certainly WISER than we are today - would heed his warnings. Nope. Human nature seems to dictate that we only learn through our mistakes, and so they had to do exactly what he said not to do in order to prove he was correct.
Okay...now that we've established when we decided to be a stupid nation, let's move forward to 1860, when our first Republican President was elected. (NOW we're at Abraham Lincoln.) Under the misconception that Lincoln was going to ruin their way of life, the Southern States secede. Why? Because of all of the personal discourse that Washington warned about. "False patriots," as Washington may have called them, screamed loudly enough to bring about a shattering of the nation. (Well done, gang.) And we paid for it in blood. This early version of the Republican Party was for a strong central government that would keep the country in one piece.
Today, here in the States, we have these things called "Red States." These are the States that tend to vote Republican most often. In a radical twist, it seems that many Southern States are the ones to vote that way...for the same party that "that heinous Lincoln belonged to." Why? Because modern Republicans are against big, centralized government.
Y'know what? Let's get away from the whole political party thing and move on to Washington's urging us to stay out of foreign affairs. Oh, the occasional alliance to support a peaceful world was all well and good, as far as his address said, but let's not choose sides all the time...unless the other nation presents an imaginary threat to our way of life, like with communism. "They're over there, and we're over here...but let's make sure they stay over there and crush them while we still can! And while we're getting involved with such nonsense, let's also attack anyone who won't easily share their oil. And once we've established a presence in these other nations, let's not leave for a few dozen decades."
Oh, but I absolutely LOVE the part where Washington warns against debt, proclaiming it a necessity in times of preparation of war, but otherwise unnecessary. "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 occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by sunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in 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." In other words, "Don't screw up the national debt unless we absolutely have to in order to stay free. And if we DO have to extend our credit, let's not leave the mess for future generations; let's clean up our own messes."
Thanks for the advice, George, but as an advanced society, we now have it in our power to park the country down the street so China can't repo the nation.
I have an idea. Let's erase all of the history books, and call Washington our first and ONLY President. After that, all others will be called "Ringmasters," as they've led this circus in some of the dumbest ways possible. It seems that all of them ignored the wise man atop the mountain, and we've paid for it ever since.
Okay, I'll be fair. I'm leaving out a lot of details in our history, mostly because I'm not trying to write an entire book on the subject at the moment. But I'm wodering what our nation would have been like - would be like - if we'd heeded George Washington's advice. No debt...No squabbling over petty differences...No Fox "News."
Perhaps one day I'll tackle the task of going over George's address, point by point, and exemplify how we handled each one. Or maybe I'll save it as a book idea. Or maybe - just maybe - I'll get over it and worry more about personal matters. =P
Be well, and DFTBA!