Father Knew Best

For President’s Day I like to re-familiarize myself with George Washington’s Farewell address. For me one of the most level-headed and foresightful pieces of political observation ever written. Lincoln gets most of the President’s day limelight, but Washington was quite a guy too.

And as the “Father of our country” he was dead on about the deleterious effect of political parties. I wish we had listened to the guy.

“22 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.

23 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.”