Skip to comments.Founder's Quotes: Washington's Warning of Today's Politics
Posted on 09/25/2008 6:43:00 AM PDT by Loud Mime
Our first president warned us specifically of the cult politics that threaten to take over our nation. About half way through his address he addresses this dangerous issue:
"I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and 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 and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and 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.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
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 and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds 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.
There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
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, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. 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. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. 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 ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
snip- end excerpt
There is a good introduction to the address here.
Remember, this issue is Liberty.
Below is from George Washingtons Farewell Address!
Warns against the party system.
It serves to distract the Public Councils, and
enfeeble the Public Administration....
agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies
and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one....
it opens the door to foreign influence and
corruption. thus the policy and the will of one
country are subjected to the policy and will of
Stresses the importance of religion and morality.
Where is the security for property, for reputation,
for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert
which are the instruments of investigation in Courts
On stable public credit.
...cherish public credit.
One method of preserving it is to use it as
sparingly as possible...
avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt....
it is essential that you...bear in mind, that
towards the payments of debts there must be
Revenue, that to have Revenue there must be
that no taxes can be devised, which are not..
.inconvenient and unpleasant...
Warns against permanent foreign alliances.
It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent
alliances with any portion of the foreign world...
As we’re in a popular form of government, these words of Washington ring loudly. Sadly, some people now have lost all sense of objectivity.
Lose your morals, lose your compass, vote Socialist.
The language sounds too Hamiltonian and I've read that as far back as the Revolution Hamilton often even wrote Washington's orders to the army, with Washington reviewing and doing some minor editing to make sure his intentions were conveyed.
We will never again see men of such stature who gave us our wonderful nation.
It would break their hearts to see the weasely, small minded pisants of today sitting in the seats of power, abusing their positions of trust, and destroying the country a little more every day.
Does it amaze any of you as it does me that the phrase “those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it” rings so loudly in our current situation?
Maybe a criteria for election to office should include the study of US History and World History BEFORE anyone can run for office . . . and the person would need to make at least a B+ on the final exams to be nominated for an office.
That goes for Cabinet members too.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Problem is these days there really aren’t any politicians in favor of limiting government in any way, shape or form.
I’ve read that Madison helped on this address to a great extent, Hamilton to a lesser degree.
I’m always in awe of the wisdom of the Dead White Guys. They knew history, and how it repeats itself. The few we have in congress who have half this wisdom, are shouted down and tossed aside.
No...not a general ping, but thanks for my ping. Well-known that The General disliked “factions,” but how to stop them? He, Adams and Hamilton were the main Federalists, and Jefferson was their main rival with the Democrat-Republicans. I always thought it a bit naive of The General to think that parties or “factions” could be avoided; I imagine that he believed many others were as good to the core as he himself was, but he was disappointed in many (esp. Jefferson).
Because Hamilton wrote the first draft of Washington's farewell letter to Congress. Washington thought Hamilton rather verbose at times and trimmed where necessary.
Other way around.
What did he know? Isn’t he just one of those old evil dead whites guys? Did I say evil? Let me say slaveholder too. Old dead evil slaveholding white guy. We are supposed to disparage and hate these guys. Did I say evil? How about slaveholder? Old dead evil white guy. Slaveholder. Did I say evil?
I get so sick of the “slave owner” argument. They also believed that 2+2 = 4, should we say that’s wrong too?
In arguing with an Obambot the other day the same argument was presented. For a moment I thought of blaming the blacks for slavery; if they would have refused to serve slavery would not have been profitable, and abandoned.
Instead, I went to the civil war logic. It meant nothing to the poor child.
“Ive read that Madison helped on this address to a great extent, Hamilton to a lesser degree.”
“Other way around.”
It’s interesting because in the Roman Republic, which ours is modeled on to a degree, the notion of belonging to a faction or factio, was considered a terrible thing. We’re all supposed to be sons of the republic, not members of our own selfish faction.