Right Hooks

After 218 Years, Washington's Farewell Address Still Relevant

Sep. 17, 2014

Hounded by an increasingly critical press, George Washington stepped down from the office of presidency. Instead of standing outside his home to deliver his farewell address (remember, the White House wasn’t built at the time), his remarks and observations on the infant nation were published in the newspapers at the time on Sept. 17, 1796. His insights into what could doom the republic are as relevant as they were 218 years ago. Washington’s words on the preservation of the government seem applicable when just last week, the progressives in the Senate sought to undermine the First Amendment:

“Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the constitution, alterations, which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown.”

And when Washington admonished politicians to remain in their “respective constitutional spheres,” we can’t help but think of a constitutional scholar who is doing everything he can to push the limits of his constitutional authority:

“It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution, in those intrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.”

You can read the full address here.

[h/t Poynter ]

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