With due respect to Millard Fillmore, Chester Arthur, and Gerald Ford, we celebrate George Washington’s birth this week. “Presidents’ Day” is to Washington’s Birthday what “Happy Holidays” is to Christmas. It makes the meaningful blah.
“Presidents’ Day” insults our first president both by placing him on an equal plane with, say, the thirty-ninth and the fifteenth presidents, and by misconstruing a political office as the sum of his accomplishments. We celebrate George Washington because he led the army that expelled the British, he loved his country more than he loved power, and he fathered our nation. So, in our troubled times of incessant warfare and economic distress, it is important to ask now more than ever: What would George Washington do?
1. Barack Obama proposes a budget that runs a $1.3 trillion deficit for 2012, increasing the national debt by more than $5 trillion in four years.
“No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable,” the first president told the third Congress. He encouraged Congress to pay down the principal and not merely the interest, noting that doing so would avoid unbearable tax burdens. No issue arises more often in Washington’s messages to Congress than redeeming the debt.
2. Barack Obama debases the currency. Rounds of quantitative easing-effectively defaulting on our creditors-fund spending sprees by creating hundreds of billions in new money that devalues the old money.
Washington explained to Congress in 1795 that the nation’s interests called for “the honorable extinction of our Public Debt.” Why that word “honorable”? Fresh from the Continentals fiasco, the general who had led an army of soldiers paid in horribly depreciated currency knew better than most the disaster of fiat money. As he explained to a Rhode Island official in 1787, “Paper money has had the effect in your State that it ever will have, to ruin commerce-oppress the honest, and open a door to every species of fraud and injustice.”
3. Barack Obama launched a war in Libya without even consulting Congress. He signed into law a health care bill that forces Americans to buy insurance policies from private companies. He appointed Richard Cordray head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and named three members of the National Labor Relations Board, without Senate confirmation when the Congress was in session.
Washington prophetically warned his countrymen against constitutional “change by usurpation, for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.” So reverential was the delegate to the Constitutional Convention toward the document crafted there that in his brief second inaugural address he noted that “if it shall be found during my administration of the Government I have in any instance violated willingly, or knowingly, the injunction thereof, I may (besides incurring Constitutional punishment) be subject to the upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn Ceremony.”
4. Barack Obama forces religious institutions to violate the tenets of their faiths by paying for abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilizations.
The episcopalian vestryman told Baltimore Swedenborgians that “every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws.” He told Catholics in 1790 that “all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the Community are equally entitled to the protection of civil Government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality.” He told Jews in Newport, Rhode Island that the federal government “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
5. Barack Obama has used the military in Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and beyond-with calls for the administration to intervene in Syria and attack Iran. As U.S. commitments have expanded, the administration proposes a smaller defense budget.
“Our detached and distant situation invites us to pursue a different course” than bellicose Europe’s, Washington noted in his “disinterested warnings of a parting friend.” He asked, “Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?” The warrior warned against adventurism abroad as he advocated strength at home. He told Congress in 1793, “If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.”
It is a shame that the man who should reflect on George Washington most today will probably not think of him at all. It is a worse shame that this man holds the job that Washington once held.