George Washington Was Right
by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— In a time when ideas of our Founding Fathers are being challenged perhaps to a degree never seen before. I want to discuss one idea with which I emphatically agree—George Washington’s distaste for political parties. He felt they would be highly destructive to our republic.
Even at the birth of the nation under his initial presidency, political parties had begun agitating for special favors from government. Our first president was appalled by their selfish agendas and was disgusted with special interest groups that worked for legislation and largess that favored themselves over all other Americans.
However, Washington was no idealist. He was resigned to the fact they would always be with us. Jump from back then to today to see just how right he was about the damage political parties would do to our nation.
The deadly polarization we have witnessed of late across the nation is the result of political parties constantly attacking each other. Millions of Americans including me are sick of it and wish for non-partisan leadership. The parties, often orchestrated by unconscionable political charlatans that ride to election victories on emotionally charged up partisans who stir class hatred and fear in order to drive out their voters in the name of getting power have cruelly divided the country.
Although political operatives work at all levels of elections, national presidential elections are the most bitterly fought campaigns. The parties seemingly will do and say almost anything to stoke the passions to win votes for their candidate.
Both parties contribute obnoxious examples. A favorite ploy of the Democrats as an election approaches is to promote hatred and class envy against “the rich.” Republicans, however, prefer to use fear of more taxes, rising crime rates or attacks on the homeland to send their voters to the polls.
Well-remembered fear ads from the past include the classic daisy petals being plucked as the countdown to a nuclear explosion takes place suggesting a vote for the opposition might trigger nuclear holocaust. Another infamous ad promoted a murderer who was pardoned by a candidate only to be free to kill again.
Before TV provided opportunity for such powerful negative ads, there was the ever-wagging human tongue. Who remembers hearing about the “whisper campaign” used against Al Smith, unsuccessful candidate for nomination for president in 1928? The poor soul was Catholic and the whisper campaign got him . . . using irrational fear that if he were elected president, the Pope would be running the White House.
Perhaps what is even more discouraging is the malleable and unthinking public that can be so easily swayed by such negative ads. Yesterday’s media was tame compared to today’s hi-tech equipment with half the population hooked into their blackberries and iPods. The palsy-walsy emails and text messages of today, even using first names coming directly from the White House or Congress and delivering daily “talking points” to followers suggest such candidates believe people can’t think for themselves.
Then it has become fashionable of late to lock out the other party if possible, from writing new legislation. The passage of the Affordable Health Act was a perfect example as one party totally ignored the concerns of the other party. All citizens lose with such one-sided government.
Now there is even a new trend. Each party now smugly wraps itself with adornment of self-righteousness—for example, “only our party has the best interests of the poor” or “only our party is made up of educated people who stay abreast of current events.” I actually dread the approach of another presidential campaign.
Here’s a suggestion. Instead of this unsavory and divided “red/blue country” partisan politics has delivered to us, let’s agree we all have legitimate concerns and work together to solve the ills of the nation.
I’m private sector and I join millions of other small businesses in having to meet a payroll every week and I am concerned with rising payroll taxes which severely limit my hiring new employees. Yet, those in the public sector may not be interested in problems of meeting payroll. Maybe their concern is getting more public tax revenues so they can expand needed public services.
Someone else may be out of a job and need unemployment benefits, and another may need support to cover living expenses. The list of genuine and legitimate concerns are many and varied. So why can’t we all sit down at the table and attend to each concern in a fair and upright manner without the need to ignore, abuse, blame, scapegoat or destroy others?
Dream on, Mary, dream on.