FOOTNOTES WRIT LARGE

This is a companion piece to ISSUE 59, the research for which raised intriguing items which ordinarily would have been mentioned in a footnote or two in the cover letter. But their sheer number here demanded the fuller coverage of their own issue.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

Our first and greatest President, George Washington, has been relegated to relative obscurity.  His birthday, until 1971 an annual National Holiday, is now “remembered”  by tawdry and demeaning  “Washington ‘s Birthday Sales.”

We have  replaced his honored holiday with a manufactured, to provide a long weekend, “President’s Day.”  Washington, has been treated shamefully, dumped into a bin with the entirety of our presidents, most of whom were non-entities.  Without George Washington, there would have been no UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. 

Historians have settled on a finding that George Washington was six foot 2 1/2 inches tall, a height towering over his contemporaries. He towered over them in integrity as well. He was universally respected.

Scholar, planter, military commander, local official, national and international statesman – he was all those and more.

After the end of our successful Revolutionary War against the greatest military power in existence, he resigned his command to return to private life.  How many great generals in history have done that?

He was asked to interrupt his retirement to chair the Constitutional Convention in its efforts to craft the form of a new government.

Stop a moment and think about the people asking him to take on this chore. They were men of unbelievable talents, diverse men, all of whom agreed on one subject – the unquestioned character of Washington. They included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Mason, James Madison, Richard Henry Lee, Patrick  Henry, Alexander Hamilton, Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, and John Adams

George Washington accepted the job and performed it generously and, as he did everything, superbly.

Over a period of 5 months, George Washington coordinated the efforts of these diverse personalities.  The delegates studied the ideas of political philosophers, including Montesquieu, Locke, and Edmond Burke. They examined how other peoples had chosen to run their nations and analyzed how various systems reacted to the realities of human nature.

The Founders established a CONSTITUTION of carefully constructed checks and balances to form a government never before seen on the planet, one which Gladstone characterized as “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”  They had created the world’s first Republic.

George Washington was the only man able to ensure the Constitution worked to establish and keep the Republic – not just the “right man,” but the only man for this critical time.

And the other Founders knew it . Accomplished men who often disagreed one with another, they agreed, if the United States were to succeed, George Washington was the only President to do it.

Washington served brilliantly and set a policy few successful leaders in history would have done. Had he desired the presidency for life, it was his. Rather he set the policy that the presidential tenure should be limited to 2 terms.

Take the time to read the excellent advice he gave us in his Inaugural and Farewell Addresses.
And then lament how our Founders have been succeeded by our politicians, political parasites, greedy, selfish, egotistical crooks whose focus is one thing only – getting and staying elected with a seat at the the taxpayers trough.

We have squandered Washington and the Founders‘ hard earned legacy.

DONALD TRUMP

Trump’s America First approach is similar to George Washington’s position on America’s role.

“We will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism.The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony.”  Trump himself also said [sections of an America First speech] …“were intended as a return to several foreign policy directives from our founding generation.”

One commentator summed it up: The President’s “America First” campaign theme has far deeper roots in the history of this country than most pundits are acknowledging.

Indeed, Trump shouldn’t be dismissed as a mere apostate in his view of America’s role in the world; against the backdrop of all 239 years of America’s existence, he represents more a reversion to the American norm.

One thing is certain: Trump truly is standing on the shoulders of giants in questioning it. And perhaps it is long past time, given the warnings of our Founding Fathers.

Further research found the idea mentioned by hostile Trumpers and biased Never Trumpers, even including this ultra “liberal” site.
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/05/founding-fathers-2016-donald-trump-america-first-foreign-policy-isolationist-213873

The piece includes this far from liberal dogma sentiment:

[It is a] debate over America’s global role of the kind we haven’t had for decades, perhaps since the last “America First” movement of the late ‘30s. And it is a debate that some foreign-policy experts suggest is long overdue,  a debate that, were they still around to witness it, a majority of past U.S. presidents going back to George Washington would probably welcome—and most of them, believe it or not, might well take Trump’s side. …After even more research, the conclusion is inescapable. President Trump’s view is the closest, even closer than Reagan, to what George Washington envisioned for America.

President Trump’s words on National Prayer Day were words Washington would be comfortable saying:
Faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God.

RONALD REAGAN

Ronald Reagan, in his first state of the union address, noted that President Washington had begun the tradition in 1790, reminding the Nation that the destiny of self-government and the ‘preservation of the sacred fire of liberty’ is ‘finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LfXL0d5WM0

President Reagan gave an eloquent summary of what George Washington meant to our country in an address at Mount Vernon on February 22, 1982.

This month we commemorate the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of George Washington, victorious commander of the American Revolution, chief advocate and President of the Constitutional Convention, and first President of the United States, unquestionably one of our greatest leaders.

His considerable wisdom, unflagging energy, dogged perseverance, profound faith in God, clear vision, and unswerving dedication to democratic principles contributed indispensably to the success of the American Revolution, the formulation and ratification of the United States Constitution and the establishment of the United States as a democratic federal republic.

As a soldier, he provided determined leadership, inspiring his men and sharing their lot in times of adversity. He took a group of farmers, tinkers, and store clerks and forged them into the Continental Army, a fighting instrument able to meet and best the finest professional troops in the world. Trusting in the rightness of his cause and, as he put it, in “the miraculous care of Providence,” he proved his valor by leading his men into battle time after time during the long years of war.

As a citizen, he exemplified the ideal of the soldier in a democratic society, resigning his commission at war’s end and retiring to the private pursuits of his beloved home, Mount Vernon. Yet, in his great vision, he saw the need for a better form of government, which would bind the sovereign States into an indissoluble Federal Union, while at the same time preserving and enhancing their unique role.

To this end, he sponsored the Mount Vernon Conference, which led ultimately to the Philadelphia Convention in 1787.

As a statesman, he made his greatest and most lasting contribution to our American Nation. He presided with both tact and firmness over the Philadelphia Convention, guiding its members in drafting our charter of government so aptly described as the most important document ever composed by the hand of man at one time.

Finally, heeding the call of his fellow citizens, he served as first President of the United States, setting precedents and establishing a standard to which all his successors can honorably aspire.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim February 22, 1982, as a Day of National Celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington.

I urge the people of the United States, in their homes, schools, and places of work, to join me in commemorating the birth of George Washington by reflecting on the character and accomplishments of this great man and his incalculable contributions to the establishment of this Nation. Let us rededicate ourselves to the fulfillment of his ideals and his faith in the people and resources of the United States.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of February, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixth.

President Reagan referenced Washington beginning the tradition of the State of the Union address. More lasting was George Washington’s Farewell address – an amazing statement of American political values warning of dangers  which have occurred:

...that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; …, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all…it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts….. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember …that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion …Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian…Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports… reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle…It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. [Emphasis added.]
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp

ANTONIN SCALIA

The best seller Scalia Speaks, published in 2017, is a collection of some of Nino’s speeches, assembled by his son, Chris, and Nino’s former law clerk, Ed Whelan.  Ed was previously referenced
in this blog at https://www.ireallymissreagan.com/single-post/2017/02/24/GOODBYE-COLUMBUS—HANDS-OFF-GEORGE-WASHINGTON

The book, given its nature as a collection of speeches, unavoidably contains a few repetitions.  The overwhelming majority may be read without finding repeats. Each of the addresses is well worth reading. From a legion of candidates, I have two favorites.

The first is a speech titled Character spoken at his son Paul’s graduation from Virginia’s Langley Hall High School.  It is both humorous and inspiring on the theme that we all have the task of educating ourselves to become  persons of wisdom, knowledge and virtue, the last of which is seldom taught anywhere. All together they spell the difference-maker in people: Character.

The second address is entitled Left and Right. Nino humorously explores the many meanings of the oft confused terms. He concludes the actual meaning of Right, in today’s context, is a philosophy with a moral basis.

The irony, of course, is the media inability to use the term the Right without adding extreme, while never describing The Left as extreme.

I leave it to you to decide whether Justice Scalia makes his case.

I did not choose, as a favorite, one with a title pertinent here: George Washington. It is one of several involving Washington. The speeches here contain more than 40 page references to Washington and include fascinating factual nuggets. One revelation intrigued me.  President George Washington, a fervent Episcopalian, attended a Catholic Mass. He wrote an understanding and supportive letter to a Jewish Congregation.  Washington did so purposely, and effectively, to emphasize that the Constitution forbids Government distinction among religions.

No surprise that Nino was devoted to George Washington. Nino was in the front lines of the battle to restore the Constitution and reawaken the Republic. Remember George Washington’s beacon:

The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.

To the living constitution advocates, Nino cogently pointed out their hypocrisy.  If one believes any Constitutional provision should be changed or enlarged, there has always been a remedy: convince one’s fellow citizens to amend it.  That was how the abolition of slavery and the enfranchisement of women were accomplished. His dissent in Casey v. Planned Parenthood spells out what Washington and our Founders achieved. It should be mandatory reading in every civics class in our nation.

George Washington would be gratified.

CONCLUSION

As I wrote this, I was struck with the fidelity to the principles of George Washington,
of the 3 individuals mentioned above – Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump and Antonin Scalia.

The patron saint of this blog, Ronald Reagan, noted that President Washington had begun the tradition of an Inaugural Address in 1790 in which he warned us that the destiny of self-government and the ‘preservation of the sacred fire of liberty’ is ‘finally staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.’

Reagan, a fervent admirer of our first president, noted that we needed, now more than ever, to heed the principles for which Washington stood: Religion, Morality, and Brotherhood were the pillars of society -and  [we cannot]…have morality without religion.

Justice Scalia held the Constitution as a beacon in the tradition of Washington.

President Trump echoed Washington’s devotion to God and the America First policy is not unlike Washington’s views on America’s goals.

A MODEST PROPOSAL

In 1879, Congress made Washington’s Birthday a federal holiday for government offices in Washington; in 1885, it was expanded to include all federal offices. The States joined in designating the holiday which, until 1971, was celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington’s_Birthday

Let’s trade in the holidays for Presidents’ Day and Columbus Day and revert back to the February 22 holiday as WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY and CELEBRATE IT ON WHATEVER DAY IT FALLS.

It will serve as AN ANNUAL REMINDER OF WHAT OUR COUNTRY OWES THIS EXCEPTIONAL MAN

 

Dick Coleman

Richard M. Coleman served as National Co-Chair, Lawyers for Reagan-Bush ’84 and really does miss RR. A graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, Dick is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a past president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and of the National Caucus of Metropolitan Bar Leaders. A professor on the faculty of Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution for 17 years, he received Pepperdine’s Excellence in Teaching Award. He has hosted TV forums on legal and financial topics and written and spoken extensively on political issues.

© Richard M. Coleman 2018