How Many Of You Are Familiar With The Founding Fathers?
Despite being woven like fabric within America’s creation story, George Washington and the rest of his contemporaries, commonly called our founders, stay something of a mystery to many of us. George Washington, a man we all “know”, many idolize, few compared to (if legends are correct) and still fewer actually know the first damn thing about. When he finally left office, Washington left the nation with some final pieces of wisdom before retiring away to Mt. Vernon. Most important of those warnings was that against party politics, something which he was adamantly opposed to.
Originally, his intent was to finish the first term of President, retiring peacefully to Mt. Vernon, to enjoy out the rest of his years with his both his beloved wife and crops. Rivalries among his cabinet forced him to postpone this goal, yet a while longer (much to Martha’s chagrin), in favor of a second term. Like a stern father, he had to be strict, and at times severe in the way with which he handled the rivaling factions in the government. It reminds me of a parent reprimanding both siblings, regardless of whether justification existed or not. The government was already showing signs of fracturing from within. Serious animosities had arisen between his Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and his Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson about differing philosophies of governance, especially about the role of the role of a centralized bank, among other things including personality differences.
Hamilton believed very strongly in a strong central bank, Jefferson believed the no less passionately in the exact opposite. Rather than putting his and wife’s personal wishes before the immediate needs above those of the infant nation; he did what any good parent would do; whatever the situation required. When he finally did retire from his life of service, it was not without offering prescient and heartfelt words of wisdom, which have proven true in today’s current political situation.
Prescient Words of Wisdom;
Here’s what George Washington had to say about partisanship;
One of the expedients of Party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions & aims of other Districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies & heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations. They tend to render Alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal Affection
Essentially he is warning us against placing more faith in any interest above the interests of the union as a whole.
Heres what comes later down the document about this as well;
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
It serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill founded Jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot & insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence & corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country, are subjected to the policy and will of another.
The New Age Nation State:
Rather than a foreign nation, it is in the interests of the corporations we are divided and conquered. A tactic our nations founders had used against the native tribes in their incessant need for more and more land from them. Lessons our founders once used to their advantage against neighboring native tribes in pursuit of a burning desire for more. More land, more resources, more titles; our inherent greed at use against us.
Factionalism, tribalism, nationalism, partisanship, whatever you would like to call it; It is an apt summary for the current political climate. When members of the “Tea Party” will sit down on the duties required of their elected place because a member of the opposition sits in office and then gloat about it, as if THAT were the job well done, says all that needs saying. Congress has one of the 2 lowest approval ratings of all time; it’s a tie for a total of 10%….
That’s what you would score on a test as long as you write your name somewhere on it. At least they knew you showed up and gave you credit for attendance.
Despite the low approval ratings of Congress, or our clear political quagmire of apathy and stalemate, or the lack of any meaningful legislation making this a more free and just society, corporate interests continue to be pursued; How is this done?
By donating heavily to both sides of the aisle, corporations ensure they benefit, irrespective of which party is victorious, something only worsened by Citizens v. United.
This is the most fractured I have ever seen the country; people can hardly speak with one another if they don’t belong to the same party. Millions of American’s are out of work, in debt, are losing their homes or unable to afford medical bills.
People, real life people, the backbone of this country; are hurting now to a degree not seen since the Great Depression. All this time, major corporations are making money hand over fist while workers and small business owners struggle to ride the storm out. as corporation’s now make up 51 of the worlds largest 100 economic entities, and Executive pay has grown exponentially. Economic disparity in the United States is now the largest it has ever been at any point recorded in history. When is enough going to be enough; When will we stand up and say that whats right for companies is not necessarily right for you and me?
Appeasing The Beast Within:
Unlike under Roosevelt, who put millions of Americans to work through the various programs that made up his famous alphabet soup; fixed prices preventing companies from inflating costs on people already struggling to get by as well as enforcing other strict controls on the banking industry and a reckless business climate that placed the nation into the deep hole the country was forced to climb from. The modern consensus approach is an appeasement policy much like the British originally had with Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
Rather than forcing companies to hire x amount of people at the risk of having any sort of federal grants, subsidies, tax break or other form of government help or aid immediately withdrawn; we entertain the thought our unemployment stems from not being “business friendly” enough. Where is the post “New Deal” or “Great Society” conversation in favor of “worker friendly” laws?
We sit idly by as factions of the government push for less government regulations in the lives of the business community, while allowing for more government contact and control within our own. A woman’s right to choose, or gay people’s right to marry are topics of conversation, but increased regulations on the reckless businesses that led us further down this rabbit hole are nowhere to be found.
Despite the knowledge, the lost revenue from the Bush Era tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy would make up almost our entire deficit, these people still want more. More tax breaks, more favoritism, more opportunity to further place the nation deep within their sleeper hold like a tights clad professional wrestler. If we make it easier on them, THEN, and only then, they will hire more workers. The only problem with that; it will probably be in China.
All of the government regulations put in place out of dire need were slowly and systematically undone; including Glass-Steigal, which separated the personal from commercial banking industry to avoid precisely the type of financial meltdown we are still recovering from. Where we once looked at the corporate gluttony and mistreatment of all that stood in their way as being despicable; think the “Robber-Barrens” of old; we now idolize them in their current form. Bill Gates, or the late Steve Jobs are cult hero’s, Apple and Microsoft aren’t painted in the same light as Standard-Oil, Anaconda, or any of the railroads. We no longer hear talk of trust-busting our a push against monopolization. Why do we no longer see these corporations for the exploitative companies they are?
Is it perhaps because their exploitation happens overseas, to foreigners; therefore out of sight and out of mind? The fact the exploitation happens overseas in no way benefits the American worker to any degree. Look how many companies have outsourced people’s jobs, closed factories, and killed pensions regardless of anyones years of dedicated service to the company…
We’re still being exploited, it’s just harder to place your finger upon exactly why you go to work and feel like you’re being shafted, it’s not really the working conditions anymore, or the hours; it’s the fact we are now less well off than our parents were; doing more for less witnessing the ever shrinking “middle class”,
I leave you with a famous poem about Nazi Germany, by Martin Niemoller;
“First They Came for the Jews”
By Pastor Niemoller
First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Are we willing to make the same mistakes again? Or are we willing to do something about it, and in some way force the political system to work in the interest of human beings again? Or will we be forced into the realization that it is our lives, our liberty, and our land they finally wish to take?
And will it then be too late?
Breaking the Pattern:
It is up to us to hold our government accountable to act in our best interests and not solely those of large commercial entities. In the post Citizens United world, the only advantage we have over these corporations is the right to vote. We must exercise this right judiciously; ensuring the voting record of our congressmen closely aligns with what we want. This election offers us a referendum, not against the Obama administration, but on government in general, our chance to demand bi-partisan coöperation. If we do nothing, we continue the steady downward spiral we now are in; if we stand up and speak out demanding fair and balanced information from our journalists, and honest representation from our politicians; nothing can stop us.
I once told my closest of friends something he never forgot when we stopped doing drugs; “rock bottom is the second you put down the shovel, all that’s left to do then is to climb back up”
I hope this sticks with others as much as it once did my friend We can continue to dig, or we can begin our ascent, but the choice is ours.
- Why Our Founding Fathers Would Disapprove of the Tea Party (alternet.org)
- When crass partisanship threatens our country (maryduty.wordpress.com)
- Meet the Real Founding Fathers (thedailybeast.com)
- ★ Reflection from a Founding Father. (ruck.us)
- Founding Fathers: Beware Two Party System (ritholtz.com)
- Gore Vidal’s ‘Burr’ Is Antidote to Tea Party Myths (washingtonmonthly.com)
- Careful With Those Founding Father Quotations! (joeymanley.com)