Back in 1776, and before that, there were some incredible people called the Founding Fathers. In my more recent political pieces, I tend to reference them as these ghosts that hang over our political process, casting glances of shame and disgust for the country we've become.
Most of the words I associate with the founding fathers center on themes of shame, weeping and disappointment. Because honestly, the mess we're in today would make them roll over in their graves, if they aren't already doing so.
My favorite president is George Washington, and will always be. Most people criticize him because he owned slaves, and did a few things that might be looked upon as incorrect today. The harsh fact is though, he was the original gangster. He led the revolution without fear. He helped create our political structure, and he empowered those who would later take the reigns. He started it all.
I have an ardent respect for revolutionaries of any breed. People who can start something and carry on as true individuals should be revered. They should be respected in the highest way possible. In the event that we can't figure out where the hell we're going we look to the people who started it all.
It doesn't matter if you're a musician or an actor or a damn accountant. Someone came before you and gave you an idea of where to do and what to do.
George Washington didn't really have that. When you create something new there is always some risk involved. And by some risk, I mean completely ruining the lives of hundreds of people who wanted to escape tyranny and make a life for themselves.
The risks involved with the Revolutionary War were so great, that I can't even find a way to describe them accurately. If Hamilton the musical taught us anything, it's that shit was real. People were dying. Things weren't all about tea taxes and stars on flags. It was realer than any history book could possibly say.
Everyone talks about the founding fathers in a different way. I am one of those odd people who take every moment in the modern political sphere and imagine what they would think of it.
One of my favorite things George Washington ever said, was in regards to political parties. His farewell address is one of my favorite speeches of all time. Take the time to read part of it. This part in particular:
"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; and sooner 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
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It 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, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."
And consume it does. Republicans. Democrats. Washington's worst nightmare is alive and well in the 21st Century.
His philosophy took from the best parts of French visionary John Locke and married it with the can-do, nationalist spirit that made this country a force to be reckoned with. This is why I respect George Washington, and regard him as my favorite president, and the best president of all time because anyone can follow rules. Not everyone can be an agent of creation. Not everyone can lead by example. Most screw things up in an attempt to follow, or they take opportunities for themselves and disregard principle and morality.
People can say what they will about me, but I am a fierce nationalist. But I'm also an extremely moral person. Wrong is wrong. Right is right. Washington knew that. And despite your leanings on all modern issues...somewhere deep down, you know it too.
People misinterpret things. They take to the ways of ruthless pragmatism to get into the White House for their own gain. They destroy the country by employing their friends in Cabinet positions. They are greedy, self serving, animalistic vagrants. They sell the American dream to people who think its cool, an they make the profit.
People like Richard Nixon have held this sacred office...but this President's Day, I'm not celebrating him and those like him.
I celebrate the hope that people like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt instilled in this country and its people.
I celebrate the courage of Bernie Sanders, and others like him who are still trying to make sense of our hokey pokey political system today. And though I do not agree with their politics, or their philosophy, I respect presidents and political pundits from both sides of the aisle...because the first step to change is to open a dialogue.
So this President's day, when you're sitting home from school or work, think about the people who came before your favorite president. Whether its a modern person like President Barack Obama or an old-school stunner like Thomas Jefferson.