AMERICANS NEED TO READ WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL ADDRESS
By Pastor Chuck Baldwin
April 3, 2004
Our first and greatest President, George Washington, delivered what many regard as the greatest political speech ever given on American soil. It is simply called, "Washington's Farewell Address." The principles contained in this address formed the direction of this republic to one degree or another for nearly the following century.
Believe it or not, I even remember studying Washington's Farewell Address in elementary school. Even more astonishing is the fact that it was a public school. (Of course, in those days, we even prayed and read the Bible in public schools, too.)
One of the more intriguing elements of Washington's Farewell Address is his warning regarding an overemphasis on political parties. Bear with me as I quote George Washington.
"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 of 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 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.
"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."
A careful reading of Washington's warning should convince anyone of its merits, because virtually everything he warned against has come to pass. The two major parties have become an end and aim of themselves, and people blindly loyal to them tend to constantly compromise the principles of liberty in order to obtain victory for the party. The result of this lack of vision and purpose is a willingness to promote that which is bad for the country in preference for what is deemed good for the party.
Blind loyalists to the two major parties seem to have forgotten that parties are to serve the best interests of the country, not the other way around. As with many special interest groups (on both the right and the left), party survival and success is considered more important than the survival and success of our nation's founding principles.
This "spirit of party" has also opened the door to corruption and undue foreign influence just as Washington warned. The lust for money, power, and influence has opened the doors of our country to every conceivable treachery and evil. This has produced unconscionable results, especially during the last half of the 20th Century, as our fighting men have mostly been used as pawns for self-serving politicians, not as defenders of America's national security.
Furthermore, we can thank the loss of American jobs and industries to overseas interests, an ever widening trade deficit, and a dangerous explosion of illegal immigration to this same "spirit of party."
So deep is party loyalty today that many people actually believe that they are being patriotic by serving the narrow and shallow schemes of the party. However, doesn't anyone stop to notice how eerily similar such an attitude is to that of communist or fascist ideology? I guess not.
Until the American people are willing to cast aside this insipid infatuation with party loyalty and are willing to once again hold their elected representatives accountable to the Constitution, it will not matter which party prevails in the elections.
A contemplative and studious reading of Washington's Farewell Address would be a good beginning for every American citizen who values his or her freedom. And it wouldn't hurt if our president and congressmen read it, either!
© 2004 Chuck Baldwin - All Rights Reserved
Chuck Baldwin is Founder-Pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. In 1985 the church was recognized by President Ronald Reagan for its unusual growth and influence.
Dr. Baldwin is the host of a lively, hard-hitting syndicated radio talk show on the Genesis Communications Network called, "Chuck Baldwin Live" This is a daily, one hour long call-in show in which Dr. Baldwin addresses current event topics from a conservative Christian point of view. Pastor Baldwin writes weekly articles on the internet http://www.ChuckBaldwinLive.com and newspapers.
"Until the American people are willing to cast aside this insipid infatuation with party loyalty and are willing to once again hold their elected representatives accountable to the Constitution, it will not matter which party prevails in the elections."