Message from the Number 1 President of the United States

Version of the “Betsy Ross” design of the first flag of the United States. In the public domain. Author: Devin Cook.

by Kathie MM

Dare you ignore him?

He was not just the first President of this country, he was a philosopher, a psychologist, a great and highly revered historical figure.

He has been called the “Father of the nation.”

He refused to run for a third term.

It’s not his birthday yet, but maybe we can honor him today by considering his message:

“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…

[S]ooner 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.

It [the alternate domination of one faction over another] 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.”

George Washington

You recognize the name.  What do you think about the warning? Is it still relevant over 200 years later? if so, what are the solutions?

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5 Responses to Message from the Number 1 President of the United States

  1. LB says:

    “[S]ooner 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.”

    According to the Zinn Education Project website, George Washington was also a slave-holder who believed it was his right to enslave other human beings and to physically punish (beat) those deemed “impertinent”. The constitution Washington helped draft allowed for the ownership of slaves and included built-in protections which made it illegal for non-slave states to provide safe haven for any enslaved person who managed to escape the horrors of the system he and the other Founding Fathers helped to create:

    There’s much to be concerned about right now, not all of it our current president’s doing. The problem is our system, which is functioning in the way it was designed to function, using the *language* (and promise) of liberty and freedom to keep us believing in the illusion, while protecting the freedoms, power and property of the wealthiest persons (including corporations) at the expense of those less fortunate.

    “Those upper classes, to rule, needed to make concessions to the middle class, without damage to their own wealth or power, at the expense of slaves, Indians, and poor whites. This brought loyalty. And to bind that loyalty with something more powerful than even material advantage, the ruling group found in the 1760s a wonderfully useful device. That device was the language of LIBERTY and EQUALITY, which could unite just enough whites to fight a Revolution against England, without ending either slavery or inequality.” (A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, by Howard Zinn)”:

    • kathiemm says:

      Nobody says it better than Howard Zinn, one of the honorees of this site, but you say it pretty powerfully too, LB.

      • LB says:

        The words of courageous deep thinkers like Howard Zinn (and countless others) have helped to shine a brighter light on the disease at the root of our collective illusion.

        If there’s a repeating theme to my comments it’s that we can’t treat the disease by focusing solely on its worsening symptoms. We’re unlikely to heal what we refuse to face or don’t understand ~ both personally, within our individual psyches, and collectively, as a part of tribe, country, and interconnected and interdependent world filled with life.

        In a larger spiritual sense, I think it has to do with the challenges of separation and forgetting, something we humans have been struggling with in varying degrees since becoming self-aware and capable of choosing.

  2. LB says:

    As an example of how things really are ~and while our collective attention continues to be diverted away from the realities of endless war and continuing lack of social, economic and environmental justice by our growing obsession with the president and possible Russian intervention~ the potential for establishing single-payer, universal healthcare in the U.S. is being misrepresented by ‘liberal’ Democrats and progressives in support of our system.

    Keeping in mind she’s responding to an August 2 Nation post written by contributor Joshua Holland critical of single-payer efforts, Dr. Margaret Flowers (Health Over Profit for Everyone and Physicians for a National Health Plan) addresses this resistance in her recent article, “Liberals Provide Ammunition Against Single-Payer”:

    “Just as many ‘progressive’ groups did during the health reform process that resulted in the ACA, Holland works to convince us that we don’t need a single payer system, and that we can work with the current system. Once again, Jacob Hacker, a leading advocate for the ACA and single payer opponent, is invoked and we are told that we can add a Medicare buy-in or another form of a public option. We are told that other countries use private insurance, so why can’t we? The Democrats, beholden to the medical industrial complex, want us to believe these false non-solutions that protect the insurance industry. It feels like 2009 all over again.”

    Dr. Flowers goes on to say:

    “The reality is that the United States is already spending the most on health care per person each year because the market has failed to control costs. That is exactly why we need a single payer system like National Improved Medicare for All. It is the only way to simplify the bloated bureaucracy of the current healthcare system, which would save around $500 billion each year, and to control the costs of medical procedures, medical devices and pharmaceuticals by having a single system that can negotiate fair prices. In addition to the bureaucracy created by a multi-payer system, the US subsidized the insurance industry with more than $300 billion last year. A system based on health, rather than profits for investors, can identify and prioritize our greatest health needs and work to address them.”

    That last sentence says it all. The full article is very informative and worth a read. It also includes links to Joshua Holland’s article:

  3. Barbara says:

    In high school we were taught to esteem the great, irreproachable George Washington, unaware that he was actually as mean-minded as most other arrogant slave-owners. Whenever I read the background of one of these exalted leaders who turn out to be violators of human rights, my mind turns to a notable exception, Mahatma Ghandi, the leader of India’s non-violent independence movement against British rule. His brand of civil disobedience and passive resistance against arbitrary and unjust authority set a sterling example that influenced the entire world– despite the violence of divisive factions that led to the assassination of this noble loin-clothed leader in 1948.

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