George Washington's words of wisdom in seemingly polarized times

As George Washington neared his resignation, he wrote a letter to the nation. In it he warns of the danger of polarized political parties.

As George Washington neared his resignation, he wrote a letter to the nation. In it he warns of the danger of polarized political parties. Approaching what could be the nastiest campaign in history, here is an excerpt from the address that is worthwhile to reflect on in today's seemingly ever polarized world. 

They [political parties] serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.

I find Washington's words prophetic in describing both of our political parties today during heart of campaign season. Both attempt to appeal to the fringes as their preferred mechanism in attempting to maintain power by fostering fear. Entities or people with power will attempt to keep that power. This is simply a defining quality of human nature. It's the fundamental reason why communism doesn't work. It's also coincidentally why at it's core fascism becomes appalling and doesn't work. George Washington, our first and greatest President was one of the few people who attained power to willingly relinquish it. He is the exception, not the rule. 

While the fringes have gotten louder and the venom more rancorous with partisan attempts to maintain power, I still do believe today that the vast majority of Americans are moderate in nature. Every four years the election cycle presents megaphones to the fringe and wings of both parties. They pander to perpetuate a climate of fear. Make no mistake there is no doubt we have problems in our nation. But I believe no single one size fits all ideology can fix the worlds issues despite how much talking heads tell you it can. Only by working together will we solve the daunting issues we face. 

"Bipartisanship does not involve the surrender of free debate in determining our position. On the contrary, cooperation and free debate are indispensable to ultimate unity," said Republican Sen. Arthur Vandenberg in the 1950's. 

The rancor today is enhanced to new heights by the 24/7 news cycle, internet "meme's", the blogosphere and 140 character tweets. Nonetheless I believe the moderate voice still represents the majority. This remains critically important despite the fact that each cycle the vitriol is becoming more and more repugnant. As vial as our two party system can become at times, it's important that neither party fails. A single demagoguing party (flip a coin, either one) is the much scarier and dangerous proposition in my opinion. 

"When nothing is owed or deserved or expected your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected" - The avett brothers head full of doubt head full of promise

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Scott Alderfer August 29, 2012 at 04:09 PM
You hit the nail on the head, Ron. And very timely.
Mark Spengler August 30, 2012 at 11:12 PM
The extremism is awful. I think a first step should be that everybody should be able to see who donates to the Super Pacs on both sides. I think extreme voices with huge fund raising capacities are really starting to take over the debate. Where does a moderate turn? Arlen Spector is an example of a moderate who was sacked. It's really too bad it has come to be such a polarized environment.
JT September 03, 2012 at 03:09 AM
This guy might have some credibility if his own faction, friends for the protection of lower macungie township, weren't so divisive as they're spewing their own rancorous venom.
thesilentmajority September 03, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Good insights, but it just doesn't apply to the talking heads in Washington. Now if we can just get the divided sides of the East Penn School Board to apply these principles and work together we could set a new precedent for the future generations in our community.
Ron Beitler September 03, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Interesting jt I think friends is a great example of folks from different poliical affiliations coming together. Our steering committee alone has members fairly far right of center and left of center. R's, D's and I's.. When in comes to protecting open space, encouraging community collaboration on development decisions and wanting transparency in government... Those are items everyone can get behind.


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