A President named George

  • Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Finally, after two weeks of making the American people suffer as much as possible, the Senate and Congress have made a decision to fund the government until January?  Ignoring who may or may not be to blame, let's talk history and consider a President named George.

George Washington became the first President of the United States in 1789.  It is said that he wrote James Madison the following: “As the first of everything our situation will serve to establish a precedent. It is devoutly wished on my part that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.”  Truly, it is a consensus among historians that Washington's tenure in office set the nation on a path that has endured for 224 years.  As he governed, it was said, Washington invented tradition as he went a long.  For instance, his dependence on the department heads for advice set a precedent for including a cabinet as part of the President's Office. Because Congress did not question the appointments, it became tradition for the President to choose his Cabinet Members.  By declining a third term Washington also set a standard for two presidential terms.  In addition, George Washington began the tradition of executive privilege during the Jay Treaty of 1795 when he refused to deliver all documents the House requested.  It is even said that Washington presented a clear show of federal authority by leading federal troops against the Whiskey Rebellion and demonstrated the federal government is empowered to levy and collect taxes.

On the other hand, Washington carefully avoided trying to dictate or unduly influence the judicial and legislative branches of government.  Also, in not vetoing bills that he disagreed with unless there were constitutional questions, he set a precedent of executive restraints.  It was said that Washington hated partisanship and political parties, but tolerated dissent, brutal attacks on his reputation, and even tolerated a divisive press, all in the name of freedom. Furthermore, Washington did not use the Presidential Office for personal empowerment nor did he shelter his friends for the sake of alliances. Finally, according to the Miller Center which is a non partisan institute at the University of Virginia, Washington's presidential restraint, seriousness, and nonpartisan stance created an image of presidential dignity and greatness.  Washington was the man who could have been king but refused the crown and saved a republic.

Perhaps some of you may argue that Washington did not have the problems of our current government.  Well, apparently President Ford was to have said that the only difference between the politics of George Washington and the present time is that Washington's was lit by candles and his (Ford's) was lit by electricity.  The Los Angles Times included the following information in a recent article:  One of the biggest political fights of the George Washington administration involved the national debt.  Alexander Hamilton successfully pushed a plan where the new federal government would assume the debts that the states had incurred during the Revolution. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison fought the idea.  In the end the sides reached a compromise under which Congress approved the debt plan and Hamilton backed the idea of placing the new capital on the banks of the Potomac River, rather than in Philadelphia.  Even Herbert Hoover was involved in the national debt as he made the following quote: “blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.”  George Bush said the following in 2009: “One of the very difficult parts of the decision I made on the financial crisis was to use hardworking people's money to help prevent a crisis.” Apparently all Presidents have battled budget issues and the national debt. I even found it interesting that Bernard Baruch, the South Carolina advisor to several Presidents made the following statement; “The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them.” Perhaps, the current Administration, Senate and Congress can not eliminate difficulties, but rather could learn from earlier problems and the consequences of shutting down the government. They might even consider the possibility of working together.

George Washington’s Home, Mount Vernon, was never closed during the government shutdown. A President named George always welcomed guest while living at Mount Vernon and visitors continue to be welcome today. Helen Thomas, the well known member of the White House Press Corp, said, “The White House used to belong to the American People at least that is what I learned from history books and by covering every President starting with John F. Kennedy.”  She was right.  The White House, the Monuments, the money spent so uncontrollably, and other public areas belong to the American People.  Perhaps it’s a lesson our leaders should learn.

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