Political Health — Or a Lack Thereof

It galls me every time some political figure points to one of our founding fathers and says this is what they wanted which is meant to be synonymous with what that politician wants.  Let’s get something very straight, first and foremost in the minds of our founding fathers was that we would survive as a country.  They were in great fear that either economically or militarily we would fail.  Even though England had capitulated they were not suddenly our friends and ally.  Mistrust of the English and their desires ran deep.  That mistrust was not misplaced as a mere 25 years later we went to war with them once again.

Washington ran unopposed for the office of President twice.  Again, our founding fathers thought political parties were not good for our country.  To be certain, everyone during those first ten years was what we call a Federalist.  And that we despite the obvious differences of believe.  In his day, Thomas Jefferson was a liberal and John Adams a conservative.  But they all agreed upon the idea of keeping this country afloat regardless of their personal beliefs.  When John Jay was made to head the first supreme court it was only because of the acceptance of his exceptional skills as a jurist.  The same was true for Alexander Hamilton and his abilities in finance.

Washington inherited a country with a huge national debt and no way to pay.  For him, first and foremost, was how to pay the soldiers who had served during the revolution.  Most had served for much less than promised and been given notes that could be redeemed once a permanent government was in place.  When the notes came due, there was no money to pay.  Many in power thought each state should be responsible for paying the soldiers from their own state.  The states were in no better financial shape and couldn’t do it either.  The issue was not fully resolved until well into the 19th century.  Why bring this up?  Because it was never seen as a political issue by those in office.

The Constitutionalists knew full well that there was a huge divide of opinion of what should and should not be in our constitution.  The get something signed off they compromised to the fullest extent possible.  We can see this in two parts.  First, if you look at the first version of the constitution, is a clause that banned slavery.  That was of course removed entirely.  The next is the first ten amendments, or the Bill of Rights.  They were not there because having them as a part of the ratified constitution would have greatly slow the process down, and they simply could not wait any longer.

The point is, our founding fathers were expert in the field of compromise.  None ever felt they had to set aside the own principles.  They all knew that to best serve their country, they always needed to find a common ground, regardless of how painful it might be.  They realized it was far better to have a little bit of something than a whole lot of nothing.  Their intransigence might have made for a whole lot of nothing which would have resulted in a failed government and country.  That was simply not acceptable to any of them.

Some of our founding fathers truly disliked some of their peers but they did not let that get in the way of what needed getting done.  We do not have that today.  We have 535 politicians who are out to serve their own agenda, an agenda that seldom includes their own constituency and definitely does not serve the best needs of the country as a whole.   They all seem to have lost sight of the fact that they are in office to serve the people, as individuals, of the United States, and nothing else.


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