This Presidents' Day,
let's seek a little wisdom
from our first president.
Have you ever read
to the nation?
Take a moment to look at this
particularly prescient passage...
I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State,
with particular reference to the founding of them
on geographical discriminations.
Let me now take a more comprehensive view,
and warn you in the most solemn manner
against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature,
having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind.
It exists under different shapes in all governments,
more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed;
but, in those of the popular form,
it is seen in its greatest rankness,
and is truly their worst enemy.
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 finds 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.
Written in 1796,
but it rings true today....
spirit of revenge
These are all buzz words
from our recent news cycles.
President Washington warned us.
It's our job,
to ensure that
is not consumed
by the fire of
It's a big job.
Let's get back to work.
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"Meet in the Middle"