I was asked the other day during the Question-and-Answer session after I had spoken on “Republic or Democracy Does it Matter” if I saw another George Washington on the horizon. Of course, George Washington headed the Continental Army during the Revolution, and he was elected to be our first president. He was also unanimously elected to be the President of the Constitutional Convention.
Washington believed his role as the president of the Convention should be nonpartisan, overseeing debates between differing opinions of the convention members, and ensuring order throughout the four-month ordeal. As far as George Washington's personal opinions concerning the new government of the newly independent colonies, he did side with the delegates who believed the Articles of Confederation were inadequate. He believed the central government had to have more authority. Like the other delegates, federalism was still important.
George Washington was a unique individual. We must remember that he declined the offer of becoming King. He did not seek power, he opposed political parties and saw the dangers of them, and he believed the country should not become entangled in foreign affairs. When he was president, he understood the limited powers of the presidency under the Constitution and adhered to them.
We also must remember that the two factions, those for a confederacy and those for a stronger central government, both believed strongly in individual liberty and freedom and opposed the tyranny of government.
Times have changed. Today, we have one political faction that believes in individual liberty and freedom as well as federalism, and we have the other side calling for the complete opposite; that is, they believe in strong, yes tyrannical central government where it is the role of government to tell each individual how they must live their lives, choices they can make, and thoughts they can have including how the thoughts can be expressed.
The sides have completely different goals. The one side believes in the supremacy of the individual and the other side believes in the supremacy of the state. A reasonable person like George Washington who was able to help find common ground to achieve the single goal of individual liberty and freedom and yet have a functional central government, is highly effective when both sides have the same goal but different ideas on how best to achieve the goal.
My answer to the question was that I do not see a George Washington on the horizon. Unlike the days of George Washington where people understood that liberty and freedom must be protected from any government, we have a political faction today that believes governments purpose is to control all aspects of the lives of individuals which means that governments role is to control the total society.
We must not seek a George Washington today if we desire individual liberty and freedom, but we must seek a Samuel Adams who understood that compromise with the tyranny of government was not acceptable under any circumstances. We must find a Samuel Adams who is willing to sacrifice all for individual liberty and freedom.
We must find that person who believes totally, as declared by Barry Goldwater, that “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
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